DeMar DeRozan’s Most Memorable Raptors Moments
Thursday’s news that DeMar DeRozan had been traded to San Antonio hit Raptors fans hard. A player who had long expressed his undying loyalty to Toronto was being let go by the only city he had ever called his NBA home. No doubt DeMar will receive a rousing standing ovation and an emotional video tribute when the Spurs roll into town.
Until then, here are DeRozan’s 9 most memorable moments as a Raptor (in honour of his 9 great seasons in the TDot), in chronological order:
Don’t Worry, I got us
Don't worry, I got us…
— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) June 29, 2010
Rather than a specific play, this was tweeted by DeRozan on June 28, 2010, just after then-franchise player Chris Bosh had left for Miami.
It has been pinned to his profile ever since.
Perhaps unnoticed at the time, the tweet has gone on to symbolize DeMar’s dedication to Toronto, both the city and the team. With the Raptors just entering a rebuild at the time, DeRozan lived up to his words, taking it upon himself to work until both he and the team had reached levels that few thought possible at the start of the decade.
Before he became an all-star, DeRozan was just another young high-flyer. Continuing the tradition of athletic Toronto wings started by Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, DeMar participated in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest the during his first 2 seasons.
Though DeRozan came up short both years, he impressed with dunks that largely eschewed the then-ubiquitous use of props, and some still claim that he was robbed of a title.
Here is an especially tasty jam from 2011:
Coming into 2013-14, DeRozan had never known playoff basketball. That was soon to change.
With the Dec. 9 trade of Rudy Gay, the Raptors took off. Now free to assume a greater role in the offence, DeMar blossomed. Numerous high-scoring nights were to follow, including a then-career high 40 points against Dallas on Jan. 22.
The game, in which Toronto overcame a 19-point deficit to win, was one of the high points of a year in which the Raptors set a franchise mark with 48 wins, with DeRozan making his 1st all-star game.
Toppling the Tower
Rudy Gobert, AKA the “Stifle Tower”, is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and one of the NBA’s most feared rim protectors.
Back in 2015, with the Raptors in a tight game late, DeRozan gave fear the finger.
With all 7’2 (with a 7’9 wingspan) of Gobert conquered, the Raptor had thrown down perhaps the best dunk of his career.
At least until later.
The NBA’s Greatest Bromance
Over 6 years, teammates DeRozan and Kyle Lowry formed one of the league’s most memorable friendships. Over the course of many interview bombs and funny moments, it was clear that this was a genuine bond not simply formed for the cameras.
Surprisingly, the two took a while to really hit it off. “His first year here, I rarely talked to him,” said DeRozan of his eventual buddy.
Of course, things would soon change. “He get on my nerves everyday, but I love him,” said Lowry.
To say DeRozan came out strong in 2016-17 would be an understatement.
The shooting guard began the year playing like a man possessed. Opening the season with 40 points, he would go on to rack up 9 30-point games in his team’s first 11 contests, the first Raptor to do so.
DeRozan would hardly let up as year went on, averaging a career-high 27.3 PPG, while starting in his first all-star game.
Setting the Mark
On Dec. 28, 2016, DeRozan set the all-time Raptors franchise scoring mark, passing Chris Bosh.
The achievement is a reflection of what separated DeMar from previous stars Bosh and Carter. While VC and CB4 were undeniably talented, they eventually signed elsewhere. DeRozan, however, stayed true to the city, only departing when it wasn’t his choice. His loyalty and persistence was rewarded with a place in the Raptors record book.
New Year’s Fireworks
On the first day of 2018, DeRozan gave Raptors fans a New Year’s present. Scoring a franchise-record 52 points, he led the Raptors to a 131-127 overtime victory over Milwaukee.
“You really can’t tell because you don’t pay attention to it,” DeMar said. “You look up, you going to halftime, you may glance at it and say ‘Damn, I got X amount of points.’ You just feed off of that and understand it’s nothing but aggressiveness and going out there and wanting to win.”
“The Craziest Play Ever”
These were the exact words said by none other than my own mother on March 7, 2018, calling me on the phone to tell me what she had just witnessed.
While her statement was admittedly hyperbole, the fact that such a play could induce such a reaction speaks volumes.
What exactly did DeRozan do? Let the video speak for itself:
Though the Pistons would subsequently tie the game, Toronto would go on to win in overtime, with DeRozan dishing off to Fred VanVleet for the game-winner.
The craziest play ever? Perhaps where the Raptors are concerned.