When the San Antonio Spurs play the Toronto Raptors it’s never just a normal game thanks to a trade that altered the fate of the Raptors forever. DeMar DeRozan is still one of the greatest players in the franchise’s history, but his trade to the Spurs brought Toronto Kawhi Leonard and an eventual NBA championship.
Leonard is in Los Angeles now, but DeRozan is still beloved in Toronto and still playing for the Spurs. So whenever DeRozan gets a chance to face his old team he likes to make it a little personal. He had 25 points in a 105-104 win on Sunday night and also managed to bring out a dunk of the year candidate. He even got a chance to celebrate a bit in the Raptors locker room, crashing Pascal Siakam’s postgame talk with reporters to give a bit of love to his former Raptors teammate.
It’s rare to see a player walk into an opposing locker room and receive so much love from everyone. Siakam, a rising star on the Raptors, had a giant smile on his face as soon as he saw DeRozan. You could hear the excitement in the background from teammates that were happy to see their friend. This might seem normal to most because these are former teammates and people, but most teams keep locker rooms as a sacred ground that opposing players aren’t allowed in. Even Russell Westbrook was kicked out of the Thunder locker room by Chris Paul. Not every player is given such a pass.
Of course, DeRozan isn’t just another player. He was loved in the Raptors locker room before the trade and he always will be after it. Those players might not play with him anymore, but many of them spent years with him. Even though he didn’t win a championship with them last year he’s still a franchise icon that is going to be loved in Toronto forever. It seems like many of his former teammates feel the same way.