On Friday, the Toronto Raptors parted ways with coach Dwane Casey.
After going 320-238 over his seven years with the club and despite winning four Atlantic Division titles and going three-straight years with 50-plus regular-season victories, the team decided to go a different direction after their third-straight playoff exit at the hands of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Oddly enough, Casey had just been named the Coach of the Year, as voted on by his peers.
Despite the disappointment of being fired, Casey will undoubtedly receive another head coaching opportunity in the near future. Rather than dwelling on losing his job, however, the 61-year-old decided to express his thanks for the opportunity that he received in Toronto.
Casey wrote a heartfelt message to the city and the organization in a letter to the Toronto Star.
“Thank you to basketball fans across this city and the country of Canada who supported the Raptors and welcomed my family with open arms during our seven years here. Thank you to all the fans who cheered us on at the Air Canada Centre while we built this program into a playoff contender, packed Jurassic Park even in the cold and rain, watched the games from home and offered their undying support as we traveled this road to relevancy together,” Casey wrote.
He continued, “Thank you for teaching our all-American family the Canadian way. That being polite and considerate to one another is always the best way. That diversity is something to be embraced and celebrated. That taking the time to learn about each other’s cultures is the surest way to find common ground and understanding. Thank you for making our children feel safe, valued, and comfortable in their own skin. We cannot express how important it has been to build the foundations of who our children are as human beings in a country that shows through its words, actions and laws that all people deserve basic human rights, and a chance to reach their goals through education and hard work.”
After thanking the team owners (Larry and Judy Tanenbaum), he went on to mention the players and coaches that he worked alongside during his tenure.
“Thank you to the many players and coaches that have proudly represented the Toronto Raptors during my tenure. Thank you for your hard work, dedication, and commitment to excellence. Thank you for enduring my southern sayings, awkwardly placed hats and most importantly for always having your shoes tied and shirttails tucked in before the shootaround film starts,” he wrote.
He then went on to thank the team and arena staff before summing up his experience.
“Coaches know that this is an industry built on change, and we willingly accept that reality,” he penned. “They say that ‘Home is not a place … it’s a feeling;’ so thank you Toronto for making us feel at home here. Thank you for supporting our family, for offering us your friendship and for teaching us the Canadian way.”
Judging by the professionalism shown in his exiting remarks, it only makes Casey more attractive to teams with current head coaching vacancies. The Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic have most likely already reached out to Casey’s representatives, as they’re the three teams remaining without a head coach.
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