Loyalty is defined as a strong feeling of support or allegiance to someone or something. Loyalty is what got Ned Stark’s head chopped off during Season 1 of Game of Thrones. Loyalty also causes a lot of arguments when it comes to sports. “Are you a loyal fan?” “Is the team loyal to their star player?” “Is the star player loyal when he or she decides to leave?” We tend to see some variation of these questions quite often. It popped up again today when the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors pulled off one of the most uninteresting trades ever. The trade involved two All Star players in Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan. Danny Green, Jakob Poeltl and a Protected 1st Round pick were also included. As I said, very uninteresting.
The part of this trade that interests me involves DeMar and the Toronto Raptors management. It’s rumored that both parties met at some point in Las Vegas during Summer League and the Raptors “promised” DeMar that he wouldn’t be traded. On top of the meeting in Vegas, DeRozan re-signed with the Raptors in July 2016 and had a solid relationship with – Kyle Lowry – the Raptors’ other All Star guard. Well in the wee hours of the morning that all changed when DeRozan posted messages on Instagram. As you may have guessed, the word “loyalty” came up.
As news of the trade unfolded so did the usual commentary. Comments such as “see that’s why you shouldn’t knock guys…” and “there’s no loyalty in sports” began to pop up. Both statements are half truths. Fans should be allowed to knock guys for joining rival or super teams. That’s what makes sports great. Especially when those criticisms and critiques are kept within the boundaries of the sport. We always hear players talk about shutting up an opposing crowd and the thrill they get from that moment. These type of decisions help fuel those moments. I agree no player or their family members should have their private lives and spaces endangered by these sports decisions. By the same token players are free to move to whatever team they want.
DeMar DeRozan chose to stay loyal when his chance to explore free agency came around in 2016. I’m not naive to the fact that sports organizations aren’t 100% loyal. We’ve seen plenty of situations similar to the one involving DeRozan. We’ve also seen situations involving players like Iverson, KG and Paul Pierce to name a few. All 3 guys left the teams they started with but ended up returning to the teams that drafted them to remember and share special moments. We saw teams the Lakers that pay a guy way more than they should’ve during the downturn of his career. as he makes his farewell Many would say Kobe’s time with the Lakers was a true test of loyalty for both sides.
Some feel loyalty is everything while others feel loyalty borders on stupidity. It’s all about how an individual sees it and it’s hard to gauge. Teams, players and fans will continue to battle over the word. My only advice is don’t get caught slipping like the King in the North.