TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan fantasized about the moment 24 hours before in a room full of reporters at the Four Seasons hotel, only to live it Friday at a packed Scotiabank Arena that welcomed back the former Toronto Raptor with the standing ovation he envisioned.
In fact, DeRozan received two ovations from a crowd that treated the Spurs guard as if he never left.
"I watch certain shows and certain introductions to certain people, and they get that long standing ovation," DeRozan said the night before returning to play his first game in Toronto since the team traded him, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick to San Antonio in a July trade for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. "I always thought that was the coolest thing in the world. I've never received one."
So the packed house at Scotiabank Arena gave DeRozan two standing ovations.
The first occurred during team introductions. The public address announcer introduced San Antonio's starting lineup, first calling out Rudy Gay, another former Raptor, before introducing DeRozan. Once DeRozan's name was announced, the crowd rose to its feet and let out a loud roar of applause that lasted for more than 45 seconds. The crowd's standing ovation drowned out the rest of the player introductions.
Then the arena immediately went completely dark, with the crowd still standing and applauding DeRozan as officials cued up the team's hype video. The crowd remained standing as Toronto's hype video played on the scoreboard. DeRozan received more love from the home crowd when he knocked down San Antonio's first bucket of the night with 10:11 left in the opening quarter, after drawing a foul on Serge Ibaka that sent him to the free-throw line. DeRozan converted the 3-point play, as Raptors fans cheered.
DeRozan's second standing ovation would come with 6:52 left in the opening quarter during a timeout with the Spurs trailing 12-10, when Toronto played a tribute video in his honor. The video featured several major moments in DeRozan's career and included footage of the guard with his daughters, moments in NBA All-Star games, several dunks, candid times with best friend and former teammate Kyle Lowry, as well as highlights from when Toronto advanced to the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals.
The arena erupted with applause throughout the entire video, and the crowd stood throughout the entire timeout, even after the video closed with a graphic featuring his picture that read: "Thank You DeMar."
DeRozan briefly walked back out onto the court just after the video concluded to acknowledge the crowd, and then returned to the bench as the fans remained on their feet cheering. DeRozan's second standing ovation lasted just under two minutes, and when the teams returned to the court to resume play, the crowd was still on its feet cheering.
At the end of the second ovation, a "Deebo" chant also broke out and continued for several seconds. DeRozan wasn't the only former Raptor-turned-Spur receiving love from the fans in Toronto. With 10:06 remaining in the second quarter, the Raptors played a tribute video for Jakob Poeltl. And while the crowd response wasn't quite as intense for Poeltl as DeRozan, nearly half the arena was standing and cheering for the Raptors No. 9 overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft.
Selected ninth overall by the Raptors in the 2009 NBA Draft, DeRozan spent his first nine seasons in Toronto, becoming the franchise's all-time leader in points (13,296), field goals made (4,716), free throws made (3,539), games played (675) and victories.
DeRozan also earned four trips to the NBA All-Star game (2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018) as a Raptor, in addition to being named second-team All-NBA in 2018, and third team in 2017.
"It would definitely be overwhelming," DeRozan said Thursday night in anticipation of the response he hoped to receive upon return to Scotiabank Arena. "It's crazy to think of a whole arena on their feet just showing appreciation. I'm looking forward to the love."