Unlike the guy who was traded for him, DeMar DeRozan got a warm welcome when he got back to Toronto. More than warm, we need to add.
The most significant player alongside Vince Carter, in the history of the Raptors, and the guy who has been a franchise face over the last few years, came back to the place where he became one of the best players in the NBA, for the first time since his ugly departure.
And his reception was fantastic. At certain moments, you couldn’t tell who is the host in this match, him, or the Toronto Raptors, as the Scotiabank Arena erupted each time he scored a basket.
It would have been even better for DeRozan if he didn’t lose the ball in the decisive moments, handing it over to Kawhi Leonard who scored maybe the crucial baskets in this match.
His best friend from the Raptors and the guy came from San Antonio, teamed up at the half of the court and stole the ball from him.
After the game, DeRozan stated that Lowry, his basketball soulmate, knows how to read his mind on the court, which is why he played such a good defense. And he did add one remark on his size also.
“Obviously Kyle, fat-ass, knows how to guard me,” DD said laughing.
The Raptors won, 120-117. DeRozan scored 23 points, with 8 assists and 4 boards. The entire game was pretty close, with both sides holding one another by the neck, not allowing some big deficits.
The spectators really had a chance to enjoy. Kawhi Leonard compared this contest with the postseason game, saying that his team had to work hard to get this win.
“You know tonight was like a playoff game. We had to grind it out all the way to the end.” the Claw said.
For DeRozan, it was more than a playoff event. He came back to his home, the place where he established him as the force in the NBA, and what is more important he came back to the place where everybody loves him.
The amount of love Raptors’ fans have for him was shown twice last night.
At first, when the lineups were introduced. We can say without any hesitation that just a few players in the league received such huge applause away from their home court.
The second time was even more memorable. During the initial timeout of the game, a tribute video appeared on the big screen, summarizing DeRozan’s entire career with the club from Canada.
Everything was there, wins, losses, family, friendship. It wasn’t easy for him to watch that, and it was obvious that he fought with emotions bigger than him in those moments on the bench.
He stepped on the court and once more greeted the people who love him the most. The volcano of emotions lasted for more than two minutes, even though the game had continued.
“It’s an honor,” DeRozan stated about the fans love. “To come back and get a reception like that, it’s definitely humbling, beyond gratifying, and I appreciate it.”
This summer, DeMar DeRozan got traded to the San Antonio along with Jakob Poeltl and 2019 protected first-round pick for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
A lot of controversies surrounded that trade, starting with the situation in San Antonio where Leonard refused to play for the team and wanted to leave to another franchise, allegedly the Lakers at the time.
Meanwhile, nothing indicated for Toronto to make that move at the time. The players, fans, and DeRozan were pretty surprised, and he himself left a couple of messages which suggested that he feels betrayed.
The same thing was with Kyle Lowry too.
DeRozan is the all-time franchise leader in scoring, games played, victories, and many other categories.
He became the 4-time NBA All-Star here and made the team one of the better in the league. The Raptors are in the last few years a consistent playoff member, with a potential for much more, which we now see.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.