October 24, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Masai Uziri, Dimar Derogen shared a special moment court side in the NBA bubble

Masai Uziri, Dimar Derogen shared a special moment court side in the NBA bubble

It’s only been a month since the NBA’s 2020 playoff bubble shop closed, the Los Angeles Lakers were crowned champions and their families were released to return home to their families.

Now that the dust has settled, more details about life in the bubble are beginning to emerge and the best mixing of the game and the endless conspiracy of daily encounters from the court.

For Toronto Raptors, i.e. Masai Uziri & Co. Championship-leader-turned-rival poet Leonard and former franchise Cornerstone Dimar Derogen, two former raptors fit for Clippers and Spurs respectively.

A piece from Taylor Rooks, Published In GQ On Tuesday, shed light on these unique moments and endless other intriguing events from Bubble Life.

Here are some highlights for Raptor loyalists:

Masai and Dimar restored the court side

In July 2018, Leonard’s nearly decade-long tenure with the Derogen Raptors ended when he was traded to San Antonio as part of a deal to bring him to Toronto. As Derogen openly expressed his feelings of shock and frustration at the action and the manner in which it was conducted, it was very confusing. He was particularly dissatisfied with Uziri, Open to the public As if he had been deceived by the Raptors president who had a close relationship with him.

In the bubble, however, the two were able to move forward. Rooks writes about a special moment between Uziri and Derogen:

Meanwhile, some players have allowed the new proximity to avenge the old. Raptors president Masai Uziri said his favorite moment on the court was when he was next door, watching his team play the Lakers, and one of his former players approached him. “I’m just sitting there and I’m going to see this guy running straight towards me in a blue track suit,” Uziri said. Demar Derogen, who spent nine seasons with the Raptors before trading for Spurs for poet Leonard. The trade “hurt” and betrayed Derogen, but won the Raptors franchise’s first championship.

“And he walks up to me,” Uziri continues, “and he gives me a big, big hug. This is the first time we’re really had that kind of contact since the trade. I left the game and I felt like we had crossed a certain point … we reached a new place. . “

Masai gets the poet out of his game

The breakup between Leonard and the Raptors is even more amicable. Although the Raptors thought they would be loyal and run back to Toronto after Leonard helped lead the club to the first title in franchise history, they understood and respected the Los Angeles native’s decision to return home.

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Despite the lack of harsh feelings, the two did not stop Leonard from getting away from his game after finding each other in a bubble – albeit accidentally.

Rooks wrote:

Pro athletes are already addicted creatures, but the limitations of the bubble are that many people in it have had to adopt routines to maintain their sanity.

For example, every morning at 5 o’clock, inside room 950 of the Gran Destino (all the top teams are there), Masai Uziri wakes up, reads his book, hops on a pilot, and works before leaving for breakfast. He thought nothing of his daily routine, one morning, into a bubble for several weeks, when a text came from another of his former players: “Morning boss, are you okay there?”

The text is by poet Leonard – Finals MVP with the Raptors, now a star in the Clippers‌ – he lives in room 850 directly under his old boss. Uziri woke up the poet with his noisy workouts for a few weeks, but the poet did not want to say anything.

Uziri told the poet that he would stop for the moment and joked that he would continue again when he met the Raptors clippers in the finals, the poet was confused with sleep. The poet responded with the worst words read aloud in the poet’s dry monotone: “Ha, do you know the proverb ‘Do not pierce a bear’? I’ll call the NBA on you ండి Get yourself out of the bubble. ”

The Raptors planned their own expulsion

Despite the mild-hearted times in the bubble, there was also a lot of confusion and pain from organizing the playoffs on par with a powerful global movement seeking to end systemic racism and racial injustice. The two met directly after police shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisa, which prompted the Milwaukee Bucks to post-season, and eventually to sustain the entire sports world.

Rooks reports that the Raptors also met with the Boston Celtics in the playoff series to discuss whether or not to boycott their own games, regardless of Bucks’ decision.

… If George Hill had not sat down, a league-wide strike would still have taken place. The next day the Raptors decided to stay in the Bucks locker room ready to play the Celtics. While the Bucks were negotiating, Raptors players Fred Vanville and Kyle Lowry quietly met with Celtics members to discuss what they should do, and Masai Uziri ran into Celtics coach Brad Stevens, and the two talked about playing.

“It’s going to be honest,” Uziri said. If it weren’t for the bucks that started the strike, it could probably be the Raptors and the Celtics.

For Uziri, it was difficult to navigate Blake’s death and all that came after he suffered an unjust treatment at the hands of the police just moments after his team announced the NBA Championship in 2019 – especially before this.

Rookes described a tragic moment with Uziri from that week:

For me, one moment in the bubble is more than anything else. The week Jacob Blake was shot, I sat outside the ballroom at the Coronado Springs Convention Center, waiting for the Raptors practice to end. Masai Uziri walked over to me and another reporter nodded and said “We should never get to the bubble.”

Uziri was overwhelmed with emotion. Since you are a black man he knows very well how to be wronged by the police. Earlier in the week, body cam footage from the 2019 NBA Finals showed a white police officer grabbing and moving Masai as he tried to step on the court after beating the Warriors for his Raptors Champions. There it was as simple as day: a powerful black man, even the president of the NBA team, was not safe from being brutally beaten by the police.

Uziri knows he has to show his players before they look elsewhere. “I cried when I showed my video to the players,” he said. “And I cried when I got the video from the lawyer. And when my wife saw it [with me]It was so passionate, I cried again. “Back then, Uziri said he’s sorry to be back in the bubble:” Honestly, Taylor, sports bring us all together. We have the capacity to address these issues head on and hope for change and strive to create that change. We have to be in that place, and the bubble in that moment is that place. ”