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Culture Watch: Raptor connections going deeper than dollars

The curtains close on the Bruno Caboclo experiment, but the bright future of Fred VanVleet is just beginning.

Rio Grande Valley Vipers v Raptors 905 Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

At 3:01 pm on Thursday, we Raptors fans nation-wide opened our windows, crawled out of our dungeons, and looked at the sun for the first time in like 12 hours. We were safe, for the most part, and ready to take on the Westchester New York Knicks.

We got chicken tenders out of the game. But we lost Bruno.

Farewell Bruno Caboclo, we hardly knew thee. It was officially announced yesterday afternoon that Bruno, G League superstar and Raptors garbage-time player extraordinaire, has been traded to the Sacramento Kings for Malachi Richardson. Bruno never developed into anything close to the “Brazilian Kevin Durant” that Masai Ujiri had hoped, but Raptors fans grew to love him over the four years he barely played for Toronto. He may be remembered more for singing “Feliz Navidad” than for his time on the court, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be missed.

Over their four years with the Raptors, Bruno and fellow Brazilian native, Lucas Nogueira became the closest of friends, with Bruno even serving as a groomsman in Nogueira’s 2016 wedding. But Bruno is not the only one who has grown attached to Toronto. Caboclo’s great dane, LaQuica, has spent her entire year and a half of life in the city. With almost four thousand Instagram followers, she is sure to be missed. (And Bruno, if she needs to be re-homed, I volunteer as tribute).

Although Bruno didn’t even get to try a Nanaimo bar during his time in Canada (seriously, I asked), we wish him nothing but the best in Sacramento. Fans of the 6’9” small forward willing to make the journey can maybe catch a glimpse of him on March 20th in Nevada, when his former Raptors 905 take on his possible next assignment, the Reno Bighorns.

In an organization as closely bonded as the Toronto Raptors, it is hard to see anyone go. Bruno will be missed, in his own special way, but for the rest of the Raptors, it is business as usual. DeMar DeRozan didn’t even know today was the trade deadline, and continued to support his teammates in ways other teams [cough Cleveland cough] would never even think to.

During post-game interviews, DeRozan was spotted wearing clothing from Fred VanVleet’s new clothing line. Two days before DeRozan changed into FVV merchandise after blowing out the Knicks, it was VanVleet’s fellow bench mob member, Pascal Siakam who sported a “Bet On Yourself” hoodie in another (much more satisfying) blowout against the Boston Celtics. VanVleet, who currently commands the lowest salary of any of the Raptors, was adamant that he would not be paying Siakam or DeRozan for their advertising.

But when your coworkers end up being some of your dearest friends, compensation is deeper than just dollar signs.