On Monday night, Terrence Ross made his first debut appearance in an Orlando Magic jersey at the Air Canada Center, where he played in front of a crowd that he called home for the past 5 years. Although Ross started off hot, torching DeMar DeRozan with 7 easy points to start off the game, there was not much Magic in the building as they fell 131-112. Ross played 29 minutes finishing with 17 points, 2 rebounds and went 0/2 in three-pointers. Despite the win, the Raptors were not the star of last night’s game but rather all eyes were on Terrence Ross. A tribute video was played for Ross early on in the game and fans couldn’t help but reflect on what the past 5 seasons were like with Ross on our side.
It's been 1 month and 14 days since Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical shocked the Twitter world by announcing that the Orlando Magic had agreed to trade Serge Ibaka to the Toronto Raptors for Terrence Ross and a 2017 first-round pick. Being drafted by the Toronto Raptors in 2012 as the eighth overall pick from Washington, the Raptors organization is all he has ever known. After 5 years with this team, a lot of people are wondering what this transition could bring for him and if it could be the push he needs to reach his potential.
Toronto fans all over the country had mixed emotions, me included. Frustration was a constant theme among fans due to his inconsistencies and droughts game after game, which made a trade like this very welcomed. Through the years, we begged him to change his game somehow and to unleash the athleticism we all knew was there. So when news broke of this trade, there was a sense of relief among fans along with a sense of excitement. Fans knew that what we got in exchange for Ross was a big step towards becoming a real contender for a spot in the NBA finals.
When Dwane Casey was asked what it was like being the one to tell Ross about the trade, he said that it was "very difficult" because Ross "was a like a son" to him. Coach Casey joined the Raptors organization in the summer of 2011 and so he too was all Terrence has known. Casey recalled the times that Ross’ maturity showed through in his early years in the league, when he took for granted the opportunities he had. It wasn’t until in more recent seasons that Ross started to really embrace his role as a pillar in the Raptor’s second unit and was starting make a real impact for the team. But the way many fans saw it, it was too little, too late.
On the other hand, Ross’ departure is bittersweet because we were losing a player who did indeed, make an impact in creating the winning Raptors team that we see now. We witnessed the moments where he showed us what he could contribute to the team. When he won the 2013 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest by paying tribute to Vince Carter, it’s as if the whole Raptors nation won it with him. Terrence Ross grew up before the nation’s eyes and we watched him evolve into the player that he is now. We saw him improve his basketball IQ and his understanding of what he was physically capable of. We started to see him attack the basket more and draw fouls from those players whom he left in his dust. And of course, we could not mention Ross without mentioning the dunks that we, as Raptors fans, were spoiled with throughout these seasons. I’m sure the image of Ross posterizing Kenneth Faried in 2014 will hold a special place in our hearts as one of the greatest dunks played by a Raptor. But more importantly, we watched him mature into a man and a father that his son could really look up to.
His role as a starter with the Magic organization gives him the chance to be one of the leaders for this young organization. He now has the freedom to really become the shooter that he is and succeed in that role. In Ross’ article for The Players' Tribune, he expressed his own excitement about where the Orlando Magic is now. It’s almost déjà vu for him in that the state of his new organization is where the Raptors used to be a couple years ago. Though the Magic has seen brighter days, they are in a position where they can only go up from here. It’s just a matter of time before guys like Aaron Gordan, Elfrid Payton, Bismack Biyambo and Evan Fournier come together as the building blocks for the Magic organization and really make their presence felt in the Eastern Conference.