During the 2016 NBA offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers had expressed strong interest in acquiring DeMar DeRozan in the free agency market. After Kobe Bryant decided to end his NBA career, DeRozan, a Southern California native, was one of the few players who was expected to continue the Lakers’ legacy. Unfortunately, the All-Star shooting guard didn’t even give the Lakers’ the chance to make their free agency pitch and decided to sign a five-year, $139 million contract to return to the Toronto Raptors.
DeMar DeRozan admitted that playing for his hometown team also crossed his mind, but he’s more determined to leave a legacy in Toronto. In a recent interview with Chris Haynes of ESPN, DeRozan revealed why he chose to re-sign with the Raptors instead of joining the Lakers or other NBA teams.
“Day 1 when I was drafted to the Toronto Raptors, they had this stigma on them: Every guy leaves, nobody wants to be here, superstars, nobody wants to play in Canada,” DeRozan said. “From Day 1, my whole mindset and approach to the game, being in Toronto, was I wanted to change that whole narrative to that whole organization. That’s why I work my butt off like I did. That’s why I push, that’s why I repped so hard to get that stigma off it.”
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 25, 2018
DeMar DeRozan is undeniably one of the major reasons behind the Raptors’ success in the last three years where he helped them made their first appearance in the Eastern Conference finals. Unfortunately, after being swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East semis for the second consecutive year, the Raptors decided to include DeRozan in the trade package to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs.
The deal earned plenty of criticism from the Raptors fans who believe that the team traded their most loyal player for a possible one-year rental. The 28-year-old shooting guard admitted that he’s shocked and hurt with the way the Raptors rewarded his loyalty for the past nine years. DeRozan said that the Raptors should have at least informed him that they were planning to trade him to San Antonio.
After learning about the trade, DeRozan revealed having a conversation with his close pal Kyle Lowry and Drake. DeRozan felt thankful for the support he received from his fans in Toronto, his teammates, and other NBA players. As of now, DeRozan is focused on his next journey as a new member of the San Antonio Spurs. The All-Star shooting guard is excited to have the opportunity to play under Coach Gregg Popovich. For his fans in San Antonio, DeRozan vowed that they can expect “a guy that’s been proven to prove himself time and time again.”