Did DeMar DeRozan just play his last game as a Toronto Raptor? After getting swept in the Eastern Conference Semi Final in humiliating fashion with a 35 point loss, it's clear that this incarnation of the Raptors has reached it's ceiling. They were a great regular season team, going 59-23 and leading the Eastern Conference, guaranteeing home court throughout the Playoffs. It didn't last long and it didn't help them any when they faced LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team that eliminates them year after year. Something has to change. Probably a lot of things have to change. The answer is not to fire Dwayne Casey. Casey will finish top 3 in Coach of the Year voting after finally getting his core group to play a different style and not rely so heavily on Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. I don't know who to blame. Well, actually we all know who to blame. This guy:
That pretty much sums up the entire Raps vs Cavs Playoffs history. Death, taxes and LeBron. The only certainties in the life of a Raptors fan. Maybe they should be content to be a great regular season team that just can't make it to the NBA Finals. Only 2 teams make it each year and it's been the same 2 for the last 3 years in a row.
While the Raptors were sinking in the whirlpool of twisting and spinning currents that was the Cleveland Cavaliers offense, DeRozan put a hard foul all over Jordan Clarkson. Although it was enough to knock Clarkson's contact lens out and get DeRozan knocked out of the game for a flagrant 2, it's not the foul that was significant to me. The last 3 seconds of this clip show me the future of the franchise and the end of an era:
He took his Toronto Raptors jersey off. Maybe for the last time. Guys take their jerseys off before getting into the locker room sometimes. Usually it is after getting ejected from a game. Sometimes it's just a guy taking off his jersey. Other times it is symbolic. This one felt like it had some meaning. If that is indeed the case, a whole lot of Raptors history just walked down that hallway, without a jersey.
DeRozan leads the franchise in games, minutes, field goals, field goal attempts, field goals missed, free throws, free throws attempted, points... He was the second of 3 Raptors to win a Slam Dunk Contest:
Look at that young buck. The only thing we knew for sure was that he had athletic ability. He went above and beyond all expectations, culminating with him breaking Vince Carter's single game scoring record:
He did his thing. The team achieved all that it could. Now franchise leader and franchise stand at a crossroads. If we're going to talk about Cleveland and crossroads in the same article, I gotta throw you a Bone:
The Raptors will look to move on. DeRozan will look to go home to L.A. It sure is going to be fun to see him in the Purple and Gold next year alongside LeBron James and the new look Lakers!
Tell them Tupac: