LeBron James Didn’t Team Up With DeMar DeRozan This Offseason But Just Showed Him the Ultimate Sign of Respect

LeBron James has turned his back on Toronto. The Toronto Raptors were LeBron’s first choice, but after a failed playoff run, the four-time NBA champion has decided to move on to a new team. “I’m going to a place where they appreciate everything I bring to the table,” James said on a press conference on Tuesday, September 11. “I’m going to a place where they want to win a championship as bad as I do.”

I’m a huge fan of basketball, and I’m a huge LeBron James fan. He has been a great player for a long time, but recently, I think he has taken his game to another level. He’s been dominant in the playoffs, and he’s had a great season overall. I have a lot of respect for him, and he is one of the best players in the league. However, I think he’s wasted a lot of his talent on a team that is a laughingstock.

Basketball is about the relationships between the players, not the players themselves. And, as is now well known, LeBron James and DeMar DeRozan don’t have the best relationship. Their relationship was already bad for some time now, but recently James’ decision to play for the Lakers instead of with DeRozan, which sparked some controversy.

If LeBron James and DeMar DeRozan had been teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers, they may have worn the Purple and Gold together. This isn’t going to happen, at least not this year. Despite this, James lavished praise on DeRozan, praising the Compton native’s position as a Toronto Raptors icon.

DeMar DeRozan’s postseason runs were cut short by LeBron James, but he still has a stellar Raptors résumé.

DeMar DeRozan is a genuine contender for one of the top three players in Raptors history (if not the best).

Only Kyle Lowry and Chris Bosh have more victory shares in club history than DeRozan. He leads the league in games played, minutes played, points, free throws, and a slew of other categories.

With the Raptors, he was named to four All-Star teams and two All-League teams, including All-NBA Second Team during the 2017-18 season. A championship ring is about the only thing lacking from DeRozan’s résumé. That exclusion from his Raptors’ history may be attributed to LeBron James.

Toronto’s dreams of reaching the NBA Finals were regularly crushed by James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs defeated the Raptors in six games. That was DeRozan’s greatest chance of defeating LeBron, as the Cavs swept Toronto in each of the following two seasons, earning the nickname “LeBronto” in the process.

DeRozan, for one, has been chastised for his poor performance and individual failures against LeBron and the Cavs. Even worse, Toronto won the title only one season after selling DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard.

While he did not carry a banner to Scotiabank Arena, the former Raptors great did more than enough for the team to retire his No. 10 jersey. At least, that’s how his former playoff opponent sees it.

The Raptors should “definitely” retire DeRozan’s number, according to James.

LeBron James defends DeMar DeRozan during a game in 2018

LeBron James defends DeMar DeRozan during a game in 2018 LeBron James thinks DeMar DeRozan’s number should be retired by the Raptors | Getty Images/Jason Miller

The career of DeMar DeRozan is far from finished. Jersey retirement is still a long way off. Nonetheless, LeBron James is determined that the Raptors ultimately acknowledge DeRozan as one of the franchise’s greatest players.

HoopFilms asked on Instagram whether the Raptors should immortalize the No. 10 jersey for all time, and James responded. It’s hardly even a question to the Lakers great.


-HoopFilms on Instagram, via LeBron James

That’s a fairly strong recommendation from one of the NBA’s all-time greats. Will the Raptors finally give in? It would be a momentous event.

Only three organizations have no retired numbers, and Toronto is one of them. After the Memphis Grizzlies recognize Zach Randolph and Tony Allen next season, the list will be down to two. Despite his popularity and importance to the organization, Vince Carter’s number has yet to be retired.

Will DeRozan’s jersey be retired as the first for a Raptor? LeBron James believes he is more than deserving of the honor. This season, James and DeRozan may be wishing they were wearing the same uniform.

LBJ and Deebo might have been teammates on the Lakers.

On playing with the Lakers,.@DeMar DeRozan says:

“You’d want to play at home, particularly if they want you, so why not?” says the player. I believe it will work [between me, LeBron, and AD]. We’re all smart basketball players who understand the importance of working together.” pic.twitter.com/FD8VIX4Jha

July 26, 2021 — Club Shay Shay (@ClubShayShay)

Throughout the offseason, DeMar DeRozan expressed interest in returning home to play with LeBron James and the Lakers. But, barring a sign-and-trade, LA didn’t have the flexibility to make the money work, and it didn’t have much flexibility after getting Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards.

Money was most certainly a factor in DeRozan’s decision, but he also said that he wanted more of a “challenge” when he signed with the Chicago Bulls. The 32-year-old agreed to a three-year contract for almost $82 million. Even through sign-and-trade, the Lakers never had the resources to complete such a deal.

Rather of jumping through hoops to get a shaky and complex contract for DeRozan, the Lakers acquired a slew of experienced veterans. James is sure to be thrilled to reunite with Carmelo Anthony and former colleagues like Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo, but a part of him may hope that DeRozan could be brought back to Los Angeles.

Basketball Reference provided the statistics. Spotrac provided contract details.

RELATED: LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers Have the “Best Team in Basketball,” Despite Their Age According to a Former Basketball Player: ‘Running Laps Around the Rest of the League,’ says Rob Pelinka.

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