It’s July 18, 2018. Maybe you know the date? DeMar DeRozan is just leaving a screening of The Equalizer 2 in his hometown of Los Angeles and picking up some food when he gets a call he never could have fathomed a moment earlier: that he has been traded from the Toronto Raptors to the San Antonio Spurs.
He may have never quite considered himself untouchable, but in his mind he had been all the Raptors had ever asked for: a star who wanted to be there and help bring glory to a beleaguered franchise that had only won one playoffs before and was all too used to its stars jumping ship in their prime. In the last five years he not only helped lead them to the playoffs, but quadrupled their number of playoff series wins with three second-round appearances, as well as making Eastern Conference Finals in 2016, so naturally he was not expecting to be traded from the team he’d dedicated his entire career to.
In an excellent piece by BR-Mag’s Jonathan Abrams, DeRozan discusses how he dealt with the shock and is adjusting to his new life in San Antonio.
“You work to want to have that privilege, but to me, reality hit, saying you really don’t have control over that privilege,” DeRozan says. “Just because I say I’m going to go walk outside doesn’t mean I can dictate if I’m going to be able to make it up the street or not. That’s how it hit me . . . No matter what you do, you really don’t have control of nothing. You gotta be ready and prepared for anything that comes.
”And that’s how I took it. Because every player works to want to have that power. That was part of the reason why I worked so hard. I wanted to not have no excuse or have no complaints [about] . . . anything when it comes to work. To have that taken away from me, it showed reality: You don’t have control of anything. As much as we all try to believe it, we don’t.”
Accepting the move was one thing, but he had plenty of help along the way in the form of an old friend’s presence in Rudy Gay, immediate love from Spurs fans before he even got here, and the excitement of playing for Gregg Popovich. He still knows there is plenty of work to be done, but he’s ready for the challenge.
“Everything is new,” DeRozan says. “Every day I learn something new, get comfortable with something else, learn more. Every day is a learning experience through the wins, through the losses. And it’s a long way to go. It’s a long season. We haven’t even hit our stride. We haven’t all gotten comfortable with what we’re trying to do yet, so everything is still relatively new for me.”
It’s an excellent read, so be sure to check out the entire thing.