There's something bittersweet about the Raps finally reaching the mountaintop after years of being stalled at basecamp because of one LeBron James without DeRozan on the roster, especially as DeRozan has had to watch much of the Raptors run from home with his Spurs being knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.
"Honestly, I don't even think I said this - I probably said this to my own inner circle".
"I had to be the sacrificial lamb", a brutally honest DeRozan said.
DeRozan added that despite being hurt, he sat back and realized he was part of the reason for Toronto's success, but he believed the organization felt it needed to trade him for Leonard to get to the next level.
The now-Kawhi Leonard led Raptors are tied with the Warriors, 1-1, heading into Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
The somewhat unexpected trade shocked many within the National Basketball Association world but in retrospect, it's a move that DeRozan has come to grasp an understanding of: "To their credit, they probably thought it was time to see what we could get to make that next jump".
Rooks then asked DeRozan about his move to San Antonio and playing for head coach Gregg Popovich. "28, everything you learned was from there", DeRozan said.
DeRozan also said he is pulling for best friend and Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry to "accomplish something that we tried to do all those years". "Everything you gained was from there", DeRozan told Rooks. "So for that to be gone like that, when you least expect it, it just throws you off guard".
"Popp is cool. He's like a Don Corleone". I like my shoes tight-fit, so when they're brand new they fit my feet perfectly.
He's not good with working iPhones and all that - he hates technology to a passion. "He always talks about how he's going to put something on Twitter knowing he ain't have a Twitter". "He called it Twittergram". "Need a new one next game".
He said his initial reaction to the trade - "more hurt" - has worn off and he's rooting hard for his best friend, Lowry. "So, we'll have a little bit of corporate knowledge going into next season and they'll show that, I think".