When Terrence Ross found out last month that he was traded by the Toronto Raptors to the Orlando Magic, he admitted via his essay on The Players Tribune that it hurt him. He had built a lot of good relationships with his teammates, the fans and other members of the organization which made it very difficult for him to leave the city he represented for four-and-a-half years.
The 6-foot-7 shooting guard thanked all those who made his stint with the team memorable, including DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Masai Ujiri and the wonderful people of Toronto. However, instead of paying tribute to all of them to start his article, he instead took a shot at the Brooklyn Nets as he recalled his first taste of playoff action three years ago.
“Nah, I’m just kidding. For the absolute record: I love Brooklyn. Great franchise, great city. But also: F*ck Brooklyn. That means something — ask any Raptors fan. Or rather, tell them. Just tell ’em those two words … and they’re going to know exactly what you’re talking about.”
“It was Saturday, April 19, 2014, and we were in the locker room at the Air Canada Centre getting ready for our playoff series against the Nets. I’m sure for some teams in the league, those teams that make the playoffs every year, Game 1 of the first round can be almost routine. But for us … man … it was a huge deal. As a franchise, the Raptors hadn’t made the playoffs in six years. And as players, well, many of us had never even made the playoffs at all. So we already knew — as we were sitting there, in the locker room, getting ready for Game 1 against the Nets — that nothing about this was routine. We already knew it was a big deal.”
Ross also discussed what he and his teammates saw on TV while they were preparing for the first game of the series. He remembered clearly what their reactions were when they saw Ujiri firing up their fans with the infamous line he uttered for the Nets.
“And then, all of a sudden, I hear something. It’s the volume on the TV in the locker room. Someone has the remote and they’re turning the sound all the way up. And a few of the guys are slowly starting to gather around the big screen, checking it out. It’s on whatever channel has our game later — it’s the pregame show. And they’re replaying this video clip … of some guy … standing outside the arena … in front of this crowd of people … and … Wait, what? I turn off my music. I get up and walk over to the TV. And as I get closer, I see that this guy they’re playing the clip of … it’s not just some guy. It’s Masai Ujiri. Our GM. And the clip they’re playing of him … well, I can hear it, loud and clear. The whole locker room can.”
Although the Raptors ended up losing in the first round that year because of Paul Pierce‘s heroics, it gave them a deeper understanding of what they had already built. As Ross stated, they were more than just a future contender, but they have also started a movement with their fans.
His days in Toronto may now be over, but based on what he wrote, it’s evident how much he loves the city and their people. He is also ready to face a new challenge and be a solid contributor to his new team, who he hopes will turn into the Raptors, who are a perennial playoff team today.