By Ben Golliver
Old habits die hard, and Jose Calderon spent the first seven-plus years of his career with the Raptors before a January deal landed him with the Pistons, no small amount of time. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, then, that he instinctively headed for the home locker room during his first return trip to Toronto's Air Canada Centre on Monday night.
As the two teams exited the court at halftime, Calderon offered high-fives to fans before heading left with the Raptors as his fellow Pistons split off to the right, in the direction of the visitor's locker room. After taking three steps past the partition, Calderon realized his mistake, doubling back to meet up with his teammates while wearing a sheepish smile on his face.
The lighthearted moment was a perfect touch to what Calderon made clear was going to be a memorable homecoming. Earlier this week, he wrote a thank you note to Raptors fans that was published in the Toronto Star.
With these words, I would like to show my appreciation to the city of the Toronto, the Raptors and their entire organization, but above all to the incredible fans. It has been almost eight fantastic years in Toronto that both my family and I will remember forever. We feel like we are a part of this city and that Toronto will always be part of our life.
From the first moment we arrived in Toronto we have felt right at home. Toronto will forever be our second home and we will never forget the treatment received from the basketball fans, the people of Toronto and the Raptors. Thanks for all of your support throughout these past eight years. Toronto will always have a special place in our heart.
Minus the halftime hiccup, the Spanish guard's homecoming went perfectly. He finished with 19 points (on eight-for-12 shooting) and nine assists in 43 minutes, helping Detroit snap a three-game losing streak and improve to 25-50 on the season with a 108-98 victory.
SportsNet.CA reported that Calderon admitted he was on the verge of tears during his post-game comments.
“It was emotional,” Calderon said of his return to the Air Canada C entre. “I don’t know. I think no tear was out, but close. It was close.”
“It’s hard to explain but it felt great,” he said. “I think it’s going to be one of the better moments in my career for sure. Just not the beginning, when they showed the video with the different times as a Raptor, with longer hair and shorter hair, less hair and more hair, it was a lot of great moments there that came to my mind.”
Toronto fell to 27-47 despite 34 points (on 13-for-18 shooting), six rebounds and five assists from Rudy Gay.
Video via YouTube user torontoraptors | Hat tip: Eye On Basketball