The Toronto Raptors, Canada’s only team in the NBA, lost a lot of fans on July 18 after trading away the face of the franchise to the San Antonio Spurs.
DeMar DeRozan was sent to the Texan team, along with Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round draft pick for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
The move has angered many Raptors fan, with many taking to social media platforms such as Twitter to share their voice. Some of them are applauding DeRozan, who once claimed “I am Toronto,” as the best player the Canadian franchise ever had.
Others have called the team’s president, Masai Ujiri, out on shipping out the team’s most loyal player. Some have even turned their backs on the Raptors, saying they are no longer part of the fan base.
So what do you do when your team decides to ship off its leader or your favourite player? Especially when that team is only starting to realize its full potential?
In the past, some fans have decided to take it to the extreme with jersey burning (in 2010, Cleveland Cavaliers fans burned LeBron James jerseys after he left for Miami Heat).
Generally, faces of franchises don’t get moved or sign with a different team a lot but this is the second time this summer it has happened. First with John Tavares in the NHL and now DeRozan. James could also be included in this discussion after leaving Cleveland a second time in favour of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The difference is that Tavares and James left on their own accord through free agency.
Franchise-level players are usually only moved if they are troublesome, severely discontent or if they are at the tail end of their careers.
Sometimes though, it’s just bad management. A perfect example that still rubs the Boston Bruins fanbase the wrong way is the trade that sent Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks for Wayne Primeau, Brad Stuart and Marco Stum. Only Sturm wore a Bruins jersey for more than two years, though he didn’t replace or even match the offensive punch former Bruins captain Thornton did. The latter has yet to win a cup with the Sharks but he has contributed to the Sharks President’s Trophy (2008-09), Conference Championship (2015-16) and six division titles.
Of course, we can only speculate right now who got the better of the Raptors-Spurs trade.
Leonard has something DeRozan doesn’t have, an NBA title but is he really the person to lead the club forward, especially if he didn’t want to be traded to Toronto in the first place as reported by several publications? With only one year left on his deal, it’s likely that he will move on from Toronto after the contract expires.