Even though he was traded to the San Antonio Spurs before they rose to the top of the NBA, DeMar DeRozan will always have a special place in the hearts of Toronto Raptors fans and players. He’s one of the players who built that organization, one of the greatest Raptors of all time, and his legacy there will be felt years after he left.
This year the Raptors have struggled and as a result of this, have been looking to get younger. These struggles are part of why they decided to move Norman Powell to the Portland Trail Blazers at the deadline earlier this month.
Powell is going to be a great addition for the Blazers but as he starts his time in Portland, he also took a moment to thank the Toronto Raptors, their fans, and the entire country of Canada for accepting him in with open arms. In this letter he also included a few special shout-out’s for one of his favorite players – DeMar DeRozan.
Norman Powell thanks San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan and Raptors for helping him grow
I’m a big fan of almost everything that The Players’ Tribune publishes. Giving athletes a platform like this to express themselves in their own words is amazing, but this most recent post from Norman Powell is unquestionably one of the better things I’ve seen on the site.
Powell touches on a lot in the article. From his arrival in Toronto to their championship run, he leaves no stone unturned in his all-encompassing and heartfelt thank you to the organization and everyone involved. It’s truly a touching memento to the team that helped him grow into the man he is. He even included a section thanking DeRozan for the impact he had on his career.
Growing up, DeRozan was like an idol to Powell. He was a larger than life figure who Powell wanted to be like. To share a locker room with him was a dream come true for a young Norman. And the wisdom he picked up from the veteran DeRozan in their time together was invaluable.
“I remember my rookie year, right as I felt like I was starting to get my sea legs as an NBA player, getting that first bit of momentum, the team sent me down to the D-League. And at first I was so pissed, man. I was furious!! I was like, I’m no D-League player!! How are they going to do this to me??!?
Looking back, it was a real turning point. I had the totally wrong mindset about getting sent down … and I could have easily stayed like that, and kept that bad energy. My career would be a lot worse off.
But in that moment, DeMar saved me. Before I left the team, he took me aside for a quick chat.
It was typical DeMar wisdom: simple, and yet deceptively deep.
He was like, “If you don’t belong down there, Norm — just prove it.”
Like I said, simple. But that was everything I needed. I understood exactly the point DeMar was making.”
That’s the kind of veteran leadership DeRozan can impart on young players. And hopefully the influence he had on Powell is similar to the impact that he’s been able to have on the Spurs young guys.
Powell also mentioned DeRozan when recalling one of his favorite memories as a Raptor. As a young, second-round pick, Powell had NBA money. But not the kind of millions that someone like DeRozan had accumulated. And DeRozan shared that love with a young Powell when he took him on an all-you-can eat shopping trip during the latter’s rookie year.
“It’s just so funny, because if you told people how these two NBA All-Stars tried to take you on a shopping spree, that’s like a fantasy. But for me, nah, I was stressing out. I felt like I had my mom beside me again and we were picking out clothes for school.
Finally I decide the right move is to just pick out one outfit — something simple. Nothing too expensive.
I find one I like, and bring it over to the other guys.
“Damn, Norm,” DeMar says to me. “That’s all you’re getting?”
A funny little anecdote in a truly touching piece. If you haven’t read it yet I can’t recommend it enough.
As Powell can attest, DeMar is one of the best veterans for young players to be around. Just another point for why the Spurs should do everything they can to re-sign him this summer.