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Fred VanVleet’s iconic ‘thugs cry’ response to Raptors’ end of an era

Raptors, Fred VanVleet

Even with all the rumors, Norman Powell was quite shocked when he was shipped from the Toronto Raptors to the Portland Trail Blazers at the trade deadline. Powell penned an article for The Players’ Tribune to talk about the events that transpired before and after he knew that he was joining a new team.

Powell admitted he bawled his eyes out saying goodbye to his former Raptors teammates, and he relayed an iconic line from good friend Fred VanVleet:

So by the time I ran into Fred, it had been a minute now since those waterworks. But if you’ve ever cried like that, you know: even after that sh*t dries … you’re still not fooling anyone.

And Fred obviously doesn’t miss a thing.

First thing he says when he sees me, he goes, “Oh, man. You was crying?”

And I just sort of hang my head a little, and laugh. And then Fred laughs.

He’s like, “It’s alright, brother. Thugs cry too. It’s cool, bro.”

The former Raptors guard admitted that having chips on their shoulders made them similar and they used it as motivation to push each other and get better every day.

That moment with Fred, it meant a lot. He’s my best friend. But beyond that, I feel like he’s been this driving force behind a lot of how I’ve grown as a player … and vice versa. That’s just how it’s always been with us. We’ve pushed each other. As competitors, for sure — it’s that second-round pick / undrafted dude hunger, I think. That underdog mentality. I mean, we had to stop playing one-on-one against each other, there had to be a ban on it, because of how competitive we got, all the little scraps we would get in.

But it was always about friendship with us first.

Freddy’s my Day One.

And it’s tough as hell, the idea of not being teammates with that dude anymore.

The UCLA product began his journey in the league after he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks as the 46th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. He was then traded to the Raptors, where he went on to stay for five and a half seasons.

Powell played a key role in Toronto’s championship run in the 2018-19 season as they emerged with a 4-2 series victory over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. He was having a career season prior to the trade, averaging 19.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.8 assists through 42 games played this season.

Though his time with the Raptors is over, Norman Powell will continue to bring with him the memories he forged with his former teammates over the past few years. Now settling in a new environment, the 27-year-old guard will aim to contribute to the Trail Blazers and lead them to greater heights for the remainder of this season.