DeMar DeRozan Reveals Not Playing in the East Without LeBron James ‘Hurt the Most’

Published 12/29/2020, 5:50 AM EST
Dec 22, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) poses with 2020 NBA Champion ring before a game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


During the 2010s, LeBron James practically locked up the East. He made it to the NBA Finals 8 consecutive times and won thrice. In the process, he stopped teams like the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics from making deep playoff runs.

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When James left the East and joined the Lakers in 2018, the Raptors seized the opportunity and won an NBA title. But it was at the cost of trading their then-superstar DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard.

DeMar DeRozan reveals how he felt when LeBron James left the Eastern Conference

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San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan (10) dunks as Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) looks on during the first half. Mandatory Credit: Mike Wyke/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

While the Raptors enjoyed success, DeRozan struggled with the Spurs. The 4-time All-Star spoke about his thoughts on not getting a chance to play in a LeBron-less East.

I remember when we lost that last series, I knew something was gonna happen. Whether your know firing a coach or trading me or Kyle [Lowry]. I just knew something was gonna happen… ‘Bron decides to go to LA, so we’re like, well sh*t, that’s the only person we lost to, maybe we have one more chance at this thing.”

When LBJ returned to Cleveland, he was focused on bringing an NBA title to the city. He accomplished that goal in the 2016 NBA Finals, but even after that championship run, the Cavs made two more finals appearances. They didn’t win any titles, but if any team had a chance to dethrone the Warriors, it was them.

That kinda like eased our mind for a second because we were like, man there’s only one motherf**ker that we haven’t been able to get past. Like F**k it, we are about to at least run it back one more time and give it a shot.”

While DeMar and Kyle were expecting to play another year as a lethal duo, the organization had other plans. They traded DeRozan for Kawhi- a move which brought them success. But DeMar was pretty upset about this move.

At that time, I was 9 years in fully dedicated, I wanted one more shot at it, especially with ‘Bron being gone. And to not get that opportunity, that’s what hurt the most instead of getting traded.”

 How good was LeBron against the Raptors?

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Prior to the blockbuster trade happened which involved Kawhi Leonard coming to the East, Cavaliers vs Raptors was arguably the biggest rivalry at the time. While the two juggernauts exchanged punches in the regular season, come playoff time, LBJ always emerged victorious.

Dec 25, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) drives past Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) for a basket in the first quarter of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

By 2018, LeBron’s record against the Raptors was a breathtaking 12-2 in the playoffs. Naturally, due to his terrific performances, the Raptors could never reach their full potential in the postseason. In fact, fans gave the Raptors an embarrassing nickname, “LeBronto.”

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What are your thoughts on DeRozan’s comments? Do you believe the Raptors would still have been the 2019 NBA champions if their leader was DeRozan instead of Leonard? Let us know your thoughts down below.

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Aikansh Chaudhary

771 articles

Aikansh Chaudhary is an NBA columnist for Essentially Sports. Previously, he helped rank various websites using the latest SEO techniques, and wrote over 2000 articles during his stint as a freelance writer. A die hard Lakers fan, Aikansh will forever uphold LeBron James as the GOAT.

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