Sure, Demar DeRozan has a long way to go. But he sure seems to be adjusting nicely to a role as the face of the franchise in waiting? Not that he is ready to take wheel and drive the car yet. However, when Vince Carter was shipped to New Jersey in one of the worst trades in NBA History neither was Chris Bosh. But unlike Bosh he already has some back up with Sonny Weems and Amir Johnson as his Young Guns(z) running buddies. Demar was in town and made an appearance at the Canada vs France game on Friday. Shame people didn't know, it might have drawn some more people down to the ACC, as attendance for those games was pretty awful. DeRozan is starting to talk like a guy that can grow into the franchise leader. Granted talking and doing are to entirely different things. But it is a start at least.
The Raptors have yet to have a superstar buy into being the man in Canada in terms of basketball. Well maybe the man, after that guy Steve Nash, to be honest about it. But Might Mouse saw a brighter future going home to Portland. Which never actually happened. Vince Carter wanted out of Toronto and has never really turned that into the success he desired. T-Mac has never won a playoff series ever, that he was dressed in an NBA uniform for. Chris Bosh will likely break that curse of failure with Miami. But the futures of Toronto stars leaving in terms of winning has not exactly worked out as they expected.
So why would we believe that a kid from Compton California won't one day want to return to the bright lights of L.A or some other U.S Destination eventually. The simple fact is that you shouldn't believe it. That is the challenge for Demar DeRozan to convince you of it. He is also has to convince people that he can be a superstar in this league as well. That being said DeRozan, Weems and Johnson really have embraced this fan base and the city. The Raptors are hitting the road for Montreal and Vancouver this pre-season and the hope would be that they embrace the country as well. The Raptors have a lot of growing to do and make no mistake about the fact this team on paper is not better off without Bosh. But his departure has left the door wide open for someone to walk through it and take hold of this franchise. Demar DeRozan without saying it directly seems to want to be that guy.
He is a hard working young man and many times I have written how much I respect his level of work ethic. He is a nice kid as well and really seems to be genuine in what he says and does. I am not going to lie in the fact I privately root for him to walk through that door. This from a guy that wanted Jonny Flynn to be a Raptor in his draft year. But in meeting DeMar and prior to that talking with people that knew him I started to like this young man. His desire to provide something better for his mother touches me personally. So to say I have some personal bias in this is totally fair and accurate. However, I am not blinded completely by that. There is a long road to climb if DeRozan is ever going to become Heir Canada or the Raptors next one.
Raptor fans have every right to feel jaded and disappointed at all the events of this summer. If you have been reading this blog over summer, I may class as both of those. That being said do you let yourself invest and believe in Demar DeRozan or the Young Guns(z)? It is kind of like asking someone after they have been through a lousy relationship if they will date again. Sure at first they will say no. But eventually the majority of people allow themselves to move on and love again. Demar, Sonny and Amir have recognized that they have an opportunity here. That is step 1 of making it happen. There are a lot more steps to take and not all of them will be successful.
In having spoke with all 3 guys at various points, they seem like genuine people and have a real love and respect for all of you. It grows harder and harder to buy into believing in athletes, and the lack of loyalty on all sides of sports is disturbing. However, that being said, I perhaps stupidly want to believe that Demar can take this chance and run with it. I want to believe that these 3 guys will get it and make it work here in Toronto. But to just believe in something isn't enough. It takes time and work which seems to be part of what this group is all about.
For those who say what about Andrea Bargnani? I remain unconvinced. While DeRozan still has a huge amount of potential, the story of Bargnani has been failure to achieve potential. I just see more desire and hunger in DeMar DeRozan to be successful. There is confidence mixed with a humility in this kid that makes me think he can do it. The trick is when the success comes will he remain that same person. After all, Chris Bosh started off as a hard working and some what shy guy. He evolved into a person that craved bright lights and stardom as much as he does an NBA Championship. I mean who thought Chris Bosh would ever be on Entourage? Just the latest in the never ending Bosh media circus.
I will say this to Demar DeRozan, you have a chance to be a hero, and for the sake of all Raptor fans I hope you are able to be one. After all, from Mighty Mouse to CB4 our heroes have not exactly been able to last. Here is hoping that Heir Canada becomes more then just a cool nickname and more a case of reality for all Raptor fans across this country.