DeMar DeRozan couldn’t have ever imagined that he would become the face of the Toronto Raptors along with Kyle Lowry growing up. But, here he is seven years after being drafted saying things like “I am Toronto.”
The All-Star shooting guard was drafted ninth in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Raptors. He was 19 then and coming off a solid freshman campaign at USC. The Compton, California native packed up and headed for Canada.
To say there was an adjustment period would be an understatement.
The 26-year-old spoke about his growth from a rookie to his recent free agency: “Even when I think about it now, I didn’t have a passport until I came here and worked out."
"I’d never been in snow. I still was wearing Chuck Taylor’s in the wintertime. Just to look at how far I’ve come, it’s crazy.”
The explosive shooting guard may have had to invest in some new shoes and a coat but, he feels completely at home in T-Dot now. Entering his eighth season, he holds the franchise record for most wins and is one of two players who have ever spent eight seasons with the franchise.
DeRozan has become synonymous with Canada in a way that most people only ascribe to pop stars like Drake. Toronto’s club has improved in each of the past five seasons and recently their recently re-signed star has been selected to the U.S. Olympic team.
Things are looking up for the Canadian organisation that was regarded as an afterthought after Chris Bosh bolted for Miami in 2010. But, the Raptors aren’t done getting better yet.
The longest tenured Raptor says it best: “I’m going to be back for five more years. I am Toronto. Outside of where I’m from, I represent this thing harder than anybody. I’ve got so many goals that I want to accomplish still and I just can’t wait to put that jersey back on and keep going.”
Up in the Air Canada Centre they say “We The North”. Now the team knows they have a leader that embodies that passionate battlecry.