'TORONTO FOREVER': Pascal Siakam says emotional goodbye to city after Raptors trade

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Pascal Siakam has penned a heartfelt goodbye to Toronto following his trade to the Indiana Pacers.

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Siakam was in his eighth season with the Raptors and leaves ranked in the Top 5 in many categories and will always be remembered for playing a key role as the No. 2 scorer on the 2019 championship team.

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Siakam titled his piece in the Players’ Tribune ‘Toronto Forever‘ and discussed the love he felt from Raptors fans not just in Toronto but across the country, how he would have preferred to stay put and the pride he took in connected different eras of the Raptors.

“I thought about it hard. I tried to picture myself playing on the different rosters, living in the different cities, even wearing the different colors. I’m going through them in my head. And I’ll be honest what I answered. I was like, “Where do I see myself? I mean…… Toronto,” Siakam wrote.

“Toronto is just all I’ve known — and all I’ve wanted to know. I never asked for a trade. Maybe this sounds naive, but I felt I could be one of those dudes who spends his whole career on one team. That was my mentality even with the rumors.

“Like: I helped the Raptors win their first NBA title. So eventually I’ll help them win their second. I always took that as a given, you know? I took a lot of pride in being that guy who’s connecting the past and the future here, and keeping it all as one era.

“But I also realize it’s a business … and it’s their right to decide when it’s time for an era to end.”

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Siakam said Toronto will always be his home — no matter where his career takes him.

“None of that changes what Toronto has meant to me, though, and what it will keep meaning. That’s the main thing I wanted to say to everyone: This is home. I put roots down for myself here — like, really, roots. I hope people reading this understand how big that was for me.

“Once I left Cameroon, I mostly bounced around boarding schools. Even at New Mexico State, I was only there for three years. So I never got that feeling of having a community around me during those parts of my life. And then most people know this, but my dad passed away while I was in college. We were very close, and it happened suddenly, and (because of my visa situation) I wasn’t even able to go to Cameroon for his funeral.

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“So when I got to the league, there was a lot I was going through, and I had this feeling of wanting badly to belong somewhere. Toronto made me feel like I belonged from day one.

“I loved the diversity — I’d go out and I’d see Cameroonians, Ghanaians, Mexicans, Koreans, Jamaicans, Europeans, just all types of people from all types of communities. It made me feel comfortable.”

Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors is interviewed after his team defeated the Golden State Warriors to win Game Six of the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 13, 2019 in Oakland, California. Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Siakam discussed feeling lucky to land with the Raptors, a team that was both a contender and one that knew how to develop prospects. And how teammate and close friend Jakob Poeltl taught him how to “shotgun a beer. I didn’t even know it’s a thing!!! It doesn’t make much sense. (I wasn’t good.)” while on a trip to Cancun and how members of the Raptors organization even helped teach him how to drive.

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Fittingly, Siakam will return to feel the love from Raptors fans on Valentine’s Day.

He closed the piece talking about what that will be like.

“But now I’m realizing the sad part…. that it’s about to be my journey in reverse: probably a few less RAPTORS 43’s in the crowd at the next home game, then a few less at the game after that, then a few less, a few less, a few less. And that’s OK. That’s how it goes.

“I’ll tell you what though: When I’m back next month as an opponent, and it’s the national anthems, and I’m standing there looking around? I do hope maybe I spot one. And I’ll still give it a YESSSS!!! on the inside. It’ll still mean a lot to me. Because it’s still a Toronto thing.

“And I’m Toronto forever.”

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