Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto Raptors Celebrate Their Brotherhood En Route to Franchise-Best Season

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto Raptors Celebrate Their Brotherhood En Route to Franchise-Best Season

Article excerpt

Toronto Raptors talk of special camaraderie


TORONTO - Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lithuania and the U.S. The Raptors may call many places home but say they shared a special bond this season.

The Toronto players scattered Saturday in the wake of their season-ending 113-87 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. But not before singing the praises of the Raptors' brotherhood.

"It's an amazing camaraderie that we have," all-star guard DeMar DeRozan said. "And it's hard to find in this league."

The ties that bind extend to their families, he added. The loud, loyal fan support behind the team also helped strengthen the bond.

Centre Bismack Biyombo, who like DeRozan will be able to listen to other teams' offers this summer, said the players enjoyed each other's company.

"It's just the locker-room, the energy around the locker-room was great," said Biyombo, who comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. "After practices, people would stay around the locker-room just to have conversations. Sometimes the conversation might sound stupid but we would still have fun with it and enjoy it.

"People would come early before practice and just sit around the locker-room, and then on the road ... This is the most fun I've had since I've been in the league."

Coach Dwane Casey also saw something special in this year's roster, saying players accepted their roles and bought into the program.

"I really feel like we had a special locker-room and I told the team (Friday) night I've been coaching since 1979 and this is one of the special connected teams that we've had," he said.

Casey called Biyombo and other newcomers this year like Luis Scola, DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph pro's pros. "All those guys fit," he said.

Winning a franchise-record 56 times and making it to the final four obviously helped the mood of the team. But player after player gave the Raptors' chemistry a thumbs-up.

"Everybody, from 1 to 15 (on the roster), we're all close, we all did things together," said Joseph, who came over from San Antonio to play in his hometown. …

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