July 21, 2018 / 8:36 PM / 3 months ago

DeRozan thanks Toronto fans: 'You took me in and embraced me as one of your own'

Native Californian DeMar DeRozan posted a heartfelt note on Instagram Saturday, addressed to the fans who cheered for him during his nine seasons with the Toronto Raptors.

May 5, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers guard JR Smith (5) during the first half in game three of the second round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

“Words could never express what you’ve meant to me. I was just a 19 year old kid from Compton when we first met, but you took me in and embraced me as one of your own. I am so grateful for the Love and Passion that you’ve given me over the past 9 years. All I ever wanted to do was duplicate it 10x over just to show my appreciation. Thank you Toronto, thank you Canada. #Comp10#ProveEm.”

DeRozan, who turns 29 in August, was stunned last week when the Raptors traded him to San Antonio for Spurs disgruntled star, Kawhi Leonard. On Wednesday, DeRozan posted this on Instagram: “Be told one thing & the outcome another. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out for a quick bit of nothing ... Soon you’ll understand ... Don’t disturb.”

On Friday, Raptors team president Masai Ujiri apologized to DeRozan for leaving him with the impression he would not be traded.

Toronto selected DeRozan, who played at USC, with the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Since then, he has become the franchise leader in a number of statistical categories, including games and minuted played, as well with 13,296 points scored. Under the leadership of DeRozan and All-Star guard Kyle Lowry, the Raptors reached the Eastern Conference finals in 2016. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers eliminated the Raptors in the last three postseasons.

Meanwhile, Leonard — whom his camp said did not want to play for the Raptors — arrived in Toronto Friday evening. Also from Southern California, Leonard had urged the Spurs to trade him to one of the Los Angeles teams. He becomes a free agent next summer.

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