As the Raptors clawed their way to their first ever appearance in the NBA Finals, DeMar DeRozan’s presence (or the lack there of) has been a parallel storyline. There’s something bittersweet about the Raps finally reaching the mountaintop after years of being stalled at basecamp because of one LeBron James without DeRozan on the roster, especially as DeRozan has had to watch much of the Raptors run from home with his Spurs being knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.
In an appearance on Taylor Rook’s Take It There, DeRozan says he was hurt by the trade that sent him to San Antonio in exchange for Kawhi Leonard, but believes it was his sacrifice that put the Raptors in a position to reach the Finals in the first place.
“If it wasn’t for all the years and groundwork that I did before then, none of them things would’ve been possible,” DeRozan said. “Yes, I fought, I sacrificed. I pushed the limits to where I had to be the sacrificial lamb. You just have to sit back and understand, like, you are the reason so many things was even possible. To their credit, the probably felt like it was time to see what we could get to make that next jump.”
DeRozan says he’s still rooting for the Raptors despite the lingering pain of being shipped off to San Antonio, and his relationship with Kyle Lowry remains as strong as ever. But it’s hard to not feel for DeRozan as he watches the team he spent nine seasons with, the team that drafted him, compete for a championship without him.