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DeMar DeRozan feels like ‘sacrificial lamb’ for Raptors, says he helped lay groundwork for NBA Finals run

DeMar DeRozan said he's rooting for the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals — even though his former team left him feeling in some ways like the "sacrificial lamb."

In an episode of Bleacher Report's "Take It There with Taylor Rooks" that was published Tuesday, DeRozan said he understood why the Raptors traded him to San Antonio in exchange for Kawhi Leonard. But he pushed back against the narrative that Toronto couldn't have made the finals with DeRozan leading the way, instead of Leonard.

"Honestly, I don't even think I said this – I probably said this to my own inner circle," DeRozan told Bleacher Report. "But if it wasn't for all the years and groundwork that I did before then, none of those things would've been possible. 

"Yes, I fought. I sacrificed. I pushed the limits to where I had to be the sacrificial lamb. You just have to sit back and understand you're the reason so many things were even possible."

“I had to be the sacrificial lamb” @DeMar_DeRozan is still rooting for the Raptors in the Finals but explains why he was so hurt when the trade went down. Season finale of “Take It There” with @TaylorRookshttps://t.co/CNL1gyPDtmpic.twitter.com/WKUtzvow29

DeRozan, 29, made four all-star teams in the first nine seasons of his career with Toronto, and he averaged 21.2 points per game this season with the Spurs. He said he's still rooting for the Raptors — and point guard Kyle Lowry, whom DeRozan called his best friend — despite the disappointment he felt when the franchise traded him away in July 2018.

"Being invested from 19 to I was, what, 28? Everything you learned was from there. Everything you gained was from there," DeRozan told Bleacher Report. "So for that to be gone like that, when you least expect it, it just throws you off guard. We're human at the end of the day."

Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

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