NBA

LeBron James says Toronto Raptors 'absolutely' should retire DeMar DeRozan's No. 10

DeMar DeRozan is set to begin his first season with the Chicago Bulls, but his impact on the Toronto Raptors franchise will never be forgotten.

In his nine seasons with Toronto, DeRozan helped lead the team to the playoffs six times, earning four All-Star appearances, two All-NBA selections and scoring 13,296 points in the process, good for first on the franchise's all-time list.

After being traded to the San Antonio Spurs in 2018, DeRozan had a number of big moments against his former team, one of which was a big dunk over Chris Boucher at Scotiabank Arena in January 2020. Recently, Instagram account @thehoopfilms shared that specific highlight, along with the caption "Should the Raptors retire DeMar DeRozan's jersey?"

A post shared by HoopFilms | Basketball (@thehoopfilms)

In the comment section, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was vehement in his response, saying "THAT'S A REAL QUESTION??? LOL. ABSOLUTELY THEY SHOULD."

Since he was traded in 2018, no Raptors player has worn DeRozan's No. 10, something that is unlikely to change in the future. DeRozan, 32, is coming off of a season in which he averaged 21.6 points, 6.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game, so he hasn't shown any sign of slowing down ahead of his 13th NBA season.

When DeRozan does decide to call it a career, No. 10 will likely hang in the rafters at Scotiabank Arena alongside Kyle Lowry's No. 7, which Raptors President and Vice Chairman Masai Ujiri has indicated will be the first to be retired by the franchise.

After those two, it sparks a dialogue surrounding the likes of Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and Kawhi Leonard, who each made an impact on the Raptors worth consideration of a jersey retirement ceremony.

James witnessed DeRozan's impact on the franchise firsthand, as he met DeRozan and the Raptors in the playoffs in each of his last three seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, beginning with the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals.

That conference finals series was the most competitive of the three postseason meetings between the teams, with Toronto tying the series at two games apiece before Cleveland advanced to the NBA Finals by winning the series in six games.

Taking the eventual champions to six games is no small feat, especially for the Raptors, who had never been to the conference finals before. DeRozan made his mark as well, averaging 23.0 points, 3.5 assists and 3.2 rebounds while shooting 50.0 percent from the field.

The battles between DeRozan and James continued as they both headed West in 2018, and over the last three seasons, the two have met an additional 10 times, with DeRozan and the Spurs earning a win in the most recent meeting on Jan. 7, 2021.

Now that the two are in separate conferences for the first time ever, they'll meet a maximum of two times in the regular season, with the first coming on Nov. 15, 2021, at the Staples Center.

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