The recent trade deal between the Raptors and Spurs didn't only rob Toronto of their most loyal player, it also ended one of the most iconic bromances in the franchise's history.
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan were more than just teammates — they were best friends. They shared wins, losses, and countless playful moments with each other during interviews and press conferences. This wasn't a business arrangement; this was a real friendship, as organic and unmanufactured as they come. Nowadays, it's rare to find that in a professional league where the desire to stand out often dominates comradery.
After the trade was confirmed, DeMar reportedly called Kyle in the middle in the night so they could talk about it. Late-night phone conversations became somewhat of a ritual for the two of them over the years. They would talk for hours about basketball, their families and life in general. We can assume the most recent call they had was the most emotional one yet.
"We are on FaceTime together a lot late at night. If I have something to say, I hit him up right away. On the road, I hang out in his room; he hangs out in my room. We have genuine conversations about life," Lowry told the Globe and Mail in 2016 regarding their special dynamic.
"Yes, we sometimes talk about basketball, but we are grown men and mostly we talk about our families, our kids, everyday life. He’s in my Favourites list, so when he calls me, it rings through no matter what."
People will tell you that the DeRozan-Leonard trade needed to happen; that the NBA is a business and that there's no such thing as loyalty in basketball. And it's all true: Isaiah Thomas' bitter story of being traded by Boston is a good example of this. The all-star point guard knows a thing or two about being traded against his wishes... It seems no amount of devotion for the Celtics could have changed his fate.
Just learn from my story! Loyalty is just a word in this game SMH— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas)
Whether DeRozan had it coming for him, fans are hurting because he was such an integral part of Toronto's identity. Losing him is like losing an important part of themselves.
Was trading DeMar for Kawhi really what the Raptors needed? Maybe. But the unpopular opinion still stands — no championship title will ever be worth more than real friendship.