DeMar DeRozan is rooting for his best friend and his former teammates to win the NBA Finals, but he still can't help but feel that he was the "sacrificial lamb" for the Toronto Raptors to get to this point.
"Honestly, I don't think I even said this -- I probably said it to my own inner circle -- but if it wasn't for all the years and groundwork that I did before then, none of them things would've been possible," DeRozan told Bleacher Report in a video interview. "Yes, I fought, I sacrificed, I pushed the limits to where I had to be the sacrificial lamb.
"You just have to sit back and understand, like, you know, you are the reason so many things was even possible."
"I had to be the sacrificial lamb" @DeMar_DeRozan is still rooting for the Raptors in the Finals but explains why he was so hurt when the trade went down. Season finale of "Take It There" with @TaylorRooks https://t.co/CNL1gyPDtm pic.twitter.com/WKUtzvow29— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 4, 2019
DeRozan was traded by the Raptors to the San Antonio Spurs last July in a blockbuster deal that brought Kawhi Leonard to Toronto.
"To their credit, [the Raptors] probably felt like it was time to see what we could get to make that next jump."
The Raptors are tied with the Golden State Warriors entering Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, ABC).
"More hurt," DeRozan said of his feelings about the trade, "because, you know, being invested from 19 to -- I was what, 28? Everything you learned was from there. Everything you gained was from there.
"So for that to be gone like that, when you least expect it, it just throws you off guard. You know, we human at the end of the day, and it definitely hits you."
That doesn't mean, however, that DeRozan has hard feelings. He is rooting for Kyle Lowry, whom he calls his "best friend," to take home the league's ultimate prize.
"I'm rooting for my best friend to do well, to accomplish something that we tried to do all the years, and he has the opportunity to do it," DeRozan said. "All the guys on that team, they know I'm rooting for them."
DeRozan averaged 21.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.2 assists in his first season with the Spurs, who were eliminated in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs by the Denver Nuggets.