For My Toronto Family

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

“This phone call is bullsh*t.”

That’s the first thing Masai said to me, last summer, when I reached out to him about the news. 

He was just playing, of course. He didn’t mean that me leaving the Raptors was bullsh*t. He didn’t even mean that me joining the Heat was bullsh*t. What he meant, though, was like — the idea of us needing any type of conversation about it? That was bullsh*t.

What he meant was: Our relationship, it’s more than just player and management at this point. It’s bigger than just “work stuff,” where you’re leaving one job to go to another, so you give the old boss a call to say thanks. Nah. It’s deeper than that with me and Masai. When you’ve been through what we’ve been through? When you share the history we share? That’s not just the GM on the other end of the phone. That’s big brother. That’s family.

So that’s pretty much what Masai and I talked about. How it’s always going to be family, and how I better not be calling to say thanks. He was like, “Get out of here, you’re thanking me. Like we’re not still going to talk all the time. HA!! You’re stuck with me for life.”

That meant a lot to me, hearing that from him. Man.... that meant everything. Because the way Masai put it about our relationship — it’s how I feel about this entire city, to be honest. 

It’s like on one level, I know I’m gone. And with Sunday being my first game back, I want to show my love, and show my thanks to y’all. But then on this other level, it’s like: I hope everyone in Toronto is reading this, and almost reacting how Masai did to that phone call. Like on some level, I hope y’all are thinking “this article is bullsh*t.” Not because there’s any hate, but because that’s how much LOVE there is. Because that’s how much it goes without saying, what the last nine years meant. And what I feel about everything that we accomplished together.

I’m excited as hell to play in Scotiabank Arena again, and to hear Raptors fans do their thing again. I’m excited to be on a court with Freddy and Pascal and O.G. again — if Masai is big bro, then those are my little bros, and they’re the guys now, they’re taking over. And I’m excited to experience that energy of Toronto basketball again.

But I also think it might just be a normal night in some ways, you know what I mean? Because regardless of the jersey I’m wearing, a lot still hasn’t changed.... and won’t ever change.

It’s never going to be a wrap between me and this city.

With family, it’s never goodbye.