TORONTO — From fellow athletes to star entertainers, DeMar DeRozan has seen loads of celebrities absorbing an prolonged spherical of appreciative applause from followers.
“After they get that lengthy standing ovation, I at all times thought that was the good factor on the planet,” DeRozan mentioned Thursday. “I’ve by no means acquired one.”
Friday evening, it could possibly be his flip.
DeRozan is again north of the border for the primary time for the reason that Toronto Raptors traded him final summer time. His new staff, the San Antonio Spurs, face the Raptors on Friday. A four-time All-Star in Toronto who helped the Raptors to 5 straight playoff appearances, DeRozan is prone to obtain a heat welcome when he’s launched.
“If it’s a kind of lengthy standing ovations, it’s positively going to be overwhelming,” DeRozan mentioned in a information convention on the Spurs’ staff lodge. “It’s loopy while you get a complete area on their toes simply displaying appreciation. I’m wanting ahead to it, to feeling the love.”
Friday’s sport would be the first following the All-Star break for each groups. Toronto (43-16) has received six straight, and is is one sport behind Milwaukee for high spot within the Japanese Convention. San Antonio (33-26) beat Memphis in its last sport earlier than the break to cease a four-game slide. The Spurs are seventh within the West, 9 video games behind leaders Golden State.
There wasn’t a lot love on provide when the Raptors visited the Spurs in January. Toronto ahead Kawhi Leonard endured chants of “Traitor! Traitor!” and “Quitter! Quitter!” from the capability crowd that adored him throughout his seven seasons in San Antonio.
“It simply felt like a street sport, however extra boos when I’ve the ball,” Leonard mentioned after the Raptors practiced Thursday. “Environments like that may solely get us higher, with the ability to have the followers up of their seats excited, wanting the staff to lose, it simply prepares us for the playoffs.”
Leaving Toronto final summer time was tough for DeRozan. Nonetheless a youngster when he was drafted by Toronto in 2009, he become an All-Star by 2014, constructing his sport yr after yr. He left city because the franchise chief in factors (13,296), subject targets (four,716), free throws (three,539), and video games (675).
DeRozan in contrast the emotional wounds left by the top of his Raptors profession to a breakup, albeit one with a cheerful ending.
“She moved on and I moved on,” he joked. “Now we’re each glad.”
Toronto coach Nick Nurse labored with DeRozan for 5 years in his function as a Raptors assistant, and known as him “the most effective dude ever.”