"I want to get in the playoffs just for the city. Just to experience the ultimate fan support and give them what they've been waiting for."
During a time when DeMar DeRozan was out of action with a torn tendon in his groin, point guard Kyle Lowry stepped up and did his best to keep the Toronto Raptors afloat.
Kyle Lowry #NBABallot, right?
We haven't done one of these but we will now: Kyle Lowry, #NBABallot— Raptors HQ (@RaptorsHQ) January 4, 2015
Robin had overtaken Batman. Perhaps Batman was never really Batman at all.
DeRozan had never experienced being on the sidelines with a major injury before. He missed just 11 games during the first five years of his career. He was as reliable as they come.
In this episode of Open Gym, we were given a closer look at how the 25-year-old has been doing since his tumble, as well as how the team pushed through the initial phase of him not being around.
Don't worry, I got us...— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) June 29, 2010
That tweet was sent out around the time former Raptor Chris Bosh decided to take his talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat. DeRozan saw that as an opportunity to elevate his own game and put the team on his shoulders. It was the passing of the torch, but not in the traditional sense.
We even saw a shot of DeRozan sitting in Bosh's locker the night after he was selected with the ninth pick in the 2009 NBA draft. Little did he know that it wouldn't be long before he would be taking over his role as the face of the franchise.
One of the highlights of the show was when the relationships he formed during his early years in Toronto came to the forefront. Bosh, Sonny Weems, Jarrett Jack, Antoine Wright and Ed Davis all played a huge role in molding him into the man we see today. They all got their due.
I even got a little choked up watching DeRozan embrace former teammate Jose Calderon (one of my all-time favorite Raptors) before a game. I miss Numero Ocho, okay?
Unfortunately, we were forced to relive one of the more gut-wrenching losses of the season in a 129-122 OT defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers. This was the first full game the Raptors played without their All-Star swingman.
Dwane Casey emphasized afterwards that his group needed to stick together, with certain guys needing to pick up the slack as they continued on with their three-game Western Conference road trip.
It came as no surprise to see him unenthused about being named NBA Coach of the Month for November. It's always about the end of the season, making the playoffs and looking at the big picture. He did, however, offer up praise to the team of assistants he has around him who make his life so much easier.
Continued props to those select Raptors fans who continue to show up at road games and cheer on Canada's team. A couple of you even got some airtime from the Dec. 2 Sacramento Kings game.
Episode 7 finished off with some more DeRozan, featuring footage of him on the practice court as he worked on his shooting and ball-handling.
It was clear throughout the 25 minutes that he's a very loyal individual who cares deeply for those he surrounds himself with. You can't teach good character. He represents the Raptors organization as well as anyone who has come before him.
2014-15 is still Lowry's year. DeRozan's tenure helps his cause in the Raptors being his team, though. Maybe it doesn't matter who the top dog is. We can all live with a collective effort.
It's extremely difficult to conjure up a precise number rating for each airing of Open Gym. The content changes, but the formula stays the same. If you're a DeRozan fan, you probably enjoyed yourself this week.
It's all good stuff, though. Jeff Landicho and the crew aren't making it easy for me to nitpick their show.
With that being said......
Three Sonny Weems'
One "Young Gunz" Highlight Package
What are your thoughts on the latest instalment of Open Gym? Leave a comment below and get involved in the conversation.
Note: Check out Bell Local Channel 1217 for the exclusive Open Gym After Show, hosted by Kat Stefankiewicz.