This morning, news of the Raptors trading their most valuable and loyal franchise player, DeMar DeRozan, for the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard, sent waves of visceral reactions throughout the internet, mostly from fans of the only Canadian franchise in the NBA.
A little history: in the summer of 2010, when NBA superstar Chris Bosh announced he would be leaving Toronto for Miami, his former Raptors teammate, an unassuming young rookie named DeMar DeRozan, tweeted something kinda weird: “Don’t worry, I got us.” Though we only won 22 games that season — just one more game than in the Raptors’ inaugural year in 1995 — he eventually came through on his promise. DeRozan, with a little help from his friends, picked us up from NBA purgatory and led us to four Eastern conference first place finishes, and most significantly, 59 wins last season — our highest ever. If only we could get rid of our postseason kryptonite in the form of Lebron James …
But the Raptors have a history of losing All-Stars. Why? Because nobody wants to stay in Toronto. Vince Carter crushed the hearts of many a Raptors fan, tanking his trade value by playing like garbage. Chris Bosh famously left after seven years to form a super team. Alonzo Mourning refused to even report to Toronto after a trade, while Antonio Davis was worried about his kids having a Canadian education. Hell, even Kyle Lowry, one half of the dynamic duo (he and DeRozan are #bettertogether), told interviewers last season that he wanted to play for the Spurs.
Then, there was DeMar. The four time NBA All-Star, two time All-NBA team member, Olympic gold medalist, who, in 2016, blew off all other teams to re-sign with Toronto for a five year contract. The man who wears a Toronto Blue Jays jersey on his Twitter profile page, which states: “Born and raised in Compton. Living my dream in Toronto.” DeMar DeRozan, who so effortlessly rebuked a fan trying to recruit him to his hometown team of the Lakers with an emphatic, “HELL NAH.” DeMar DeRozan, who brought mental health and depression into the forefront of professional sports. DeMar DeRozan, who had that “Don’t worry, I got us” tweet from June 29, 2010 pinned to the top of his Twitter page — was the most loyal Raptor we’ll ever know.
Here’s a look at the top 10 times he made us proud to be Raptors fans.
10 times DeMar DeRozan made us proud to be Toronto Raptors fans
When he tweeted his loyaltyIn his now legendary tweet, DeRozan promised to be there for our team after Chris Bosh's disappointing departure. He lived up to it, too. Twitter/@demar_derozan
His early sparks of greatnessDeMar hit a game-winning fadeaway jumper to defeat the Orlando Magic in 2013.Getty Images
His friendship with Kyle LowryNever has there been a more charismatic NBA duo than these two, whose friendship extends off-the-court too.Getty Images
When he became an All-StarIn 2014, Deebo made the NBA All-Star team, further cementing his status as our franchise player.Getty Images
Game 7 against the Indiana PacersDeRozan had us on the edge of our seats when he scored 32 points in a Game 7 win over the Pacers -- the first ever playoff win by the Raptors in a best of 7 series.Getty Images
When he repped the East in the Toronto 2016 All-Star GameGetting to start an All-Star game on home court was a huge deal for DeMar, as he beat out Isaiah Thomas in the new voting system that included players and media.Getty Images
When he re-signed with TorontoBlowing off all other teams, DeMar stayed true to the Raps and signed a five year contract in 2016. Lowry congratulated him in this Instagram post, hashtagging: #dinnerisnevereveronmeagain.Instagram/@Kyle_Lowry7
When he won Olympic goldThough it wasn't a win for Canada, there were two Raptors representing Team USA in the Rio Olympics, proving DeRozan had what it takes to be an Olympic champ. Instagram/@Kyle_Lowry7
When he set a franchise recordSetting a franchise record in 2018, DeMar scored 52 points in a win against the Bucks.Getty Images
When he opened up about his mental healthDeRozan tweets about his depression, prompting fan support and other NBA stars like Kevin Love to open up about mental illness. An unprecedented and courageous move in a sport so concerned with image.Getty Images