Mr. Toronto Raptor

There is so much to unpack regarding this morning’s blockbuster trade. When it was clear Chris Bosh was leaving for the Miami Heat in 2010, DeMar DeRozan tweeted “Don’t worry, I got us…” In the last four years, with the rise to prominence of the Toronto Raptors franchise, I have referenced this pinned tweet every time DeMar did something of significance to lift the Toronto Raptors from bottom-dwellers to consistent contenders. He was that guy.

DeMar was the first star that the Raptors developed to want to remain with the franchise for his entire career. After being left at the alter by Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, and Chris Bosh (to name a few), basketball fans in Toronto embraced their homegrown star with open arms. We recognised his flaws… He was such a raw, unrefined talent when drafted back in 2009. Every summer, Deebo proved his detractors wrong by adding another dimension to his game. He worked tirelessly to develop go-to moves, improved his ball-handling, and eventually became an above average play-maker during the excellent 59-win 2017-2018 regular season.

From an objective perspective, the Raptors did really well with this trade. By not giving up OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam and only giving up a protected 1st round pick, the Raptors did not mortgage their entire future. Even in a worst-case scenario where Kawhi leaves after one season, the Raptors can pivot into a rebuild with Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam still under contract. In a best-case scenario, the Raptors can accomplish what they hoped to do last season: make the NBA Finals. A deep playoff run, after a year-long recruitment could make Kawhi more receptive to remaining in Toronto for the long haul. The newest iteration of the Toronto Raptors is deep, versatile, and a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference.

But let’s get back to DeMar DeRozan. Just because I think the Raptors did very well in this trade, doesn’t mean I can’t be immensely sad about it. DeMar DeRozan is a class act on and off the basketball court. There are so many moments… The Mozgov dunk. The Detroit dunk (and the pass that embodied his evolution). The Cleveland dunk to tie the game. The Gobert Dunk. The most underrated dunk contest dunk of all-time. His friendship with Kyle Lowry. The game-winner against Orlando. The dunk to end Milwaukee. “I am Toronto.”

I’m glad DeMar gets to work with the greatest coach of all-time. San Antonio is going to love him. I can’t wait to give him a standing ovation when he returns to Toronto for the first time. His number 10 will undoubtedly be up in Toronto when his career is over.