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A handful of great players have come and gone since the Toronto Raptors basketball organization was born 26 years ago. From the early days of Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, to Chris Bosh, to the recently departed Kyle Lowry, these players have truly left their mark and established themselves as some of the best players to ever wear a Raptors’ jersey.
To date, the Raptors and the Los Angeles Clippers are the only two franchises in the NBA to not have a player’s jersey retired. With several great caliber players over the years, there has been conversation on who the Raptors organization should honour and which players should have their legacy cemented forever in the rafters of Scotiabank Arena. The Raptors have already stated that they plan to retire Lowry’s jersey first in the near future, when Masai Ujiri called Lowry “the Greatest Raptor of All Time”.
In addition to Lowry, there is no question that there are other strong candidates to have their jersey retired. One of those players is DeMar DeRozan. On September 6th, Hoop Films (@thehoopfilms) sparked conversation with an Instagram post asking if DeRozan should have his jersey retired.
Without any hesitation, “The King” himself, LeBron James, took to the Instagram comments on Monday afternoon to give his opinion on whether or not DeRozan’s number 10 should be retired.
With the guarantee that Kyle Lowry’s jersey will be retired some day, should the Raptors also add DeMar’s jersey next to his former partner in crime? A fan favourite in Toronto and the greatest Raptor to wear number 10 (no disrespect to Milt Palacio and Uros Slokar), the case for DeMar DeRozan’s jersey retirement is a no-brainer and here is why we should see his name hung in the rafters:
DeMar DeRozan has always embraced Toronto from the moment his name was called on draft night. Selected 9th overall by the Raptors in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Compton, California native spent 9 years with the franchise and became an integral part of the team during his run with the Raps.
DeRozan’s loyalty and passion for the city of Toronto is what made him such a great player and popular figure among Raptors fans. He was one of the first star players who embraced the city and team culture, which was very rare considering many star players did not want to play in Canada. DeRozan took over as the franchise player, taking the reins from Chris Bosh, who departed to South Beach. He tweeted this in 2010 following Bosh’s move to the Miami Heat:
DeRozan showed that he wanted to be “the guy” and he wanted to play for the city of Toronto. DeRozan continued to push himself while playing for Toronto and remained loyal even through the challenging and unsuccessful seasons. DeRozan re-signed in Toronto twice and was determined to help lead the franchise through the postseason.
Along with Kyle Lowry, DeRozan helped contribute to the legitimacy of the Raptors as contenders in the Eastern Conference. He helped bring the Raptors back to the playoffs in 2013, kicking off a run of five consecutive postseason births. The only thing standing in the way was LeBron James. Once expectations began to rise and the need for the next jump to become a championship team, DeRozan became the piece that would change the direction of the franchise.
The bitter-sweet end of the DeMar DeRozan era in Toronto really shocked Raptors fans, and even DeMar himself. The infamous trade sent DeMar to San Antonio in exchange for Kawhi Leonard, who ultimately led the Raps through the 2019 championship run. Meanwhile, it was DeRozan who thought he would be with the team to take them to the next level after finally establishing themselves in the East as a legitimate playoff contending team.
Despite this, DeRozan’s legacy in Toronto will live on forever as one of the all-time greatest Raptors. DeMar helped pave the way for the 2019 championship through his loyalty, leadership and perseverance through the challenging seasons. It is no doubt that Derozan’s jersey will soon be hanging up in the rafters with his friend Kyle Lowry. Raptors fans will never forget what DeRozan has done for the Raptors organization and he deserves to be recognized for that.
Finally here are some of DeRozan’s milestones throughout his time as a Toronto Raptor:
- Selected 9th overall by the franchise in 2009
- 3x All-Star
- 2018 All-NBA Second Team
- Slam dunk contest in 2010 and 2011
- Finished his Raptors career averaging 19.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.0 steals, 82.7% FT, and 44.8% FG over nine seasons.
- Leads the franchise in Games Played, Points, Field Goals Made and Attempted, and Free Throws Made and Attempted.