The drama in the NBA is a non-stop cycle that seems to never end and it keeps getting worse. In the past several years, we have seen big moves that have lead to not only upsetting the fans, but upsetting the players and giving them a sense of being stabbed in the back.
Today, the Toronto Raptors agreed to send their star shooting guard, DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected first round pick to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange superstar Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. This is yet another blockbuster deal that seems to be a recurring theme over the past several seasons in the NBA. However, in the case of this deal, it was more than just an ordinary star swap.
DeMar DeRozan was completely stabbed in the back by the Toronto Raptors organization. He holds several of the Raptors’ franchise records, which includes games played, minutes played, field goals, free throws, and points. He’s been named an All-Star four times while playing in Toronto and has lead them to several number one seeds. Let’s not forget that he signed a five year $139 Million contract with them in 2016, when he could’ve left and went to a different team.
DeRozan was clearly in it for the long haul with the Raptors, and what do they do? They stabbed him in the back, and they also stabbed Kyle Lowry, who has a very close relationship with DeRozan. After being traded, DeRozan stated “Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing.” The NBA has turned into a league of back stabbers and a place where loyalty is hard to come by, which DeMar felt strongly on. Let’s take a look back on recent back stabbing occurrences.
2010: LeBron James leaves his beloved hometown Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat during “The Decision.” This is arguably the biggest stab in the back to a city. At the time, LeBron was seen as a hero in Cleveland; a man and an athlete who can turn the city’s hopes around and give them something to cheer for. Instead of trying to fight through the mighty Boston Celtics, he left Cleveland to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, where he won his first title in 2012.
2016: Kevin Durant signs with the Golden State Warriors and joins an already juggernaut 73-win team. He pulls the biggest “if you can’t beat them, join them” move. He ditches Russell Westbrook for an easy title, and hurts the relationship between the two. Westbrook felt they could win together, but Durant decided to leave him to go ring chasing. Their relationship has not been the same since.
2017: The Boston Celtics trade Isaiah Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers. This was painful for many fans, but it hurt IT more than anyone. He felt like he finally found a home where he was seen as a star and a great player, rather than just some 5’9″ point guard whose potential is a sixth man. He felt loved and went through a lot with the Celtics organization. After his sister’s death and him attempting to fight through an injury for the team, he was traded. He gave his all to the Celtics organization, even playing hours after his sister’s death. IT was hoping for “brinx trucks,” but ended up with a different team, eventually leading to his downfall where he is playing for Denver on a veteran minimum contract.
2018: The Toronto Raptors fire their head coach Dwayne Casey. After winning Coach of the Year, Casey was fired and forced to look for a new job. This is an unusual case, but Casey helped to turn the Raptors organization around, improving in wins each season. He coached the team to several number one seeds, and won the award for best coach. Although Casey might not have deserved the award, it was still a stab in the back. He was with the team for several season and kept improving the team. After winning an award like that, its quite shocking to see a coach get fired.
2018: I like to call this one, “The Mystery of Kawhi Leonard.” Kawhi only played a handful of games this past season, but it wasn’t due to injury. He just did not want to be in San Antonio. Kawhi was dealing with a quad injury for some time, but was cleared to play for a good chunk of the season. He gave up on the Spurs and only wanted to play in Los Angeles. Quitting a team is not only a stab in the back to the organization, but to the fan base who expect so much from him, considering he is a franchise player.
There are many more examples of the lack of loyalty in the NBA, but those are the most well-known. The Toronto Raptors are a joke for trading their franchise player, who was loyal to the team until the end. The NBA continues to go on a downhill slope, with not only super teams forming, but with loyalty fading.
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