With the Toronto Raptors trading, DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard, fans are reminded about the other side of sports where “loyalty” shouldn’t be a factor.
Toronto Raptors fans and DeMar DeRozan learned a valuable lesson on Wednesday, loyalty in sports only goes so far.
The shock value that came from the DeRozan-Kawhi Leonard trade grew as details emerged from the deal. There was excitement to see a top-five player in the league come to Toronto but moving a franchise player isn’t easy for fans to get over.
One of the biggest talking points from the deal was the Instagram story that DeRozan posted claiming that the organization lied to him about being on the trade block. In DeRozan’s case, he has a reason to be upset with how everything played out as it appears that the news blindsided him.
What players and fans have to remember through all of this is that sports are a business and in the end, teams are forced to make tough decisions if they think it will put them in a better position to win.
When it comes to the conversation about loyalty, that is a tough one. Here is a tweet with a quote from Dwayne Wade which perfectly sums up why loyalty and sports shouldn’t go together.
In the end, trading a franchise leader in scoring and games played is not an easy thing to do especially when that player committed to staying with the team when he could have gone back to home.
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There is no denying that he was improving as a player and gave the Raptors everything he could expect finding success in the postseason. Sure LeBron James leaving was one hurdle out of the way but with Boston and Philadelphia emerging as contenders, the Raptors weren’t going to be seen as contenders.
The Raptors might not be perennial contenders yet but this trade puts them in a better position than if they stuck with the status quo. Sure there is a gamble with Leonard only under contract for a season but it’s one Masai Ujiri seems comfortable taking.
In the end, it is the Raptors president who assumes the most risk with the changes made with fans feeling unsettled with the way things have worked with DeRozan. However, if the team can get Kawhi on board and get to an NBA Finals then it is a win.
If it doesn’t work out this season, the Raptors gain cap space and keep their young core intact to move forward with a rebuild than many expected to come.
DeRozan was not only loyal to a team but a city and a country which is something most people in the NBA don’t understand except for the ones who played here. They should also know that the business side of sports can be harsh and unfortunately, DeRozan found that out the hard way.
He is going to an organization that has built a strong culture around winning with a world-class coach that is excited to have him on the team. It’ll take time for him to get over this decision by the Raptors but DeRozan now has the chance to prove why teams should take loyalty into account more often.