Opinions were divided following news of the stunning blockbuster that landed superstar Kawhi Leonard in Toronto, one that cost the team and city probably the most beloved player in Raptors franchise history.
There is one common sentiment held true through all the debate, however: everybody loves DeMar DeRozan. He’s going to be sorely missed by a fanbase that has yearned for high-profile, non-hockey athletes to embrace Toronto as their home.
DeRozan, like many fans, is reportedly devastated and heartbroken after being traded from the only organization he’s ever known, and he penned an emotional farewell post on Instagram Saturday to show his love and appreciation to the team and city he’s called home for the last nine years.
Words could never express what you’ve meant to me. I was just a 19 year old kid from Compton when we first met, but you took me in and embraced me as one of your own. I am so grateful for the Love and Passion that you’ve given me over the past 9 years. All I ever wanted to do was duplicate it 10x over just to show my appreciation. Thank you Toronto, thank you Canada. #Comp10 #ProveEm
A post shared by DeMar DeRozan (@demar_derozan) on Jul 21, 2018 at 10:14am PDT
Many seem to understand the nature of the trade and realize that even though it comes with immense risk, especially if Leonard doesn’t re-sign, Masai Ujiri and the Raptors brass had to make a huge shake-up beyond just firing their head coach after yet another early playoff disappointment.
It’s a cold business that doesn’t particularly care for anyone’s feelings, to be sure, but there’s still that human element. The bonds that form between player, team and fanbase which make deals like these very hard to stomach on all sides.
TSN’s Josh Lewenberg broke it down beautifully on a personal level, trying to shed some light on why exactly this trade has been so devastating for DeRozan:
I don't usually do this, but I have strong feelings on the subject. Here are my thoughts on how DeMar DeRozan is taking the news of his trade: pic.twitter.com/0EsEATJ79u
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) July 20, 2018
For what it’s worth, DeMar can always take solace in knowing he’s easily one of the most universally-loved and respected players (and people) to ever ply his athletic craft in the city of Toronto.
When the dust settles and the sting wears off, we’ll look back on this as one of the best love stories between player and city we’ve seen, even though it wasn’t exactly a fairytale ending.
In sports, it rarely is.
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