Learning something from Siakam
Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.
In today's modern sports culture it seems like that adage has been lost. We live in a time when success is based on wins, losses, and rings. In the NBA, it's led to super teams and ring chasers where players jump from team to team looking for the best opportunity to win a title.
And to a point that's fair. Team's that don't win games aren't successful, but maybe we should take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
During an Instagram live chat yesterday with former Toronto Raptor DeMar DeRozan, Pascal Siakam might have shocked some fans when he talked about the most fun he ever had playing basketball.
It wasn't earlier this year when the franchise handed the reigns of the franchise over to the 25-year-old Cameroonian. It wasn't even last year when Siakam teamed up with Kawhi Leonard to lead Toronto to the NBA mountain top.
For Siakam it was that 2017-18 season when he, Fred VanVleet, Jakob Poeltl and Delon Wright made up Toronto's "Bench Mob."
"That was the most fun I had playing basketball," Siakam told DeRozan. "It was so fun and the whole team was together and obviously you guys, like Kyle, like the older guys were hanging out more, but then it was always like love with the younger guys. The younger guys were always staying together too ... and we played great. Literally, it was amazing."
Even DeRozan — who was famously dealt to San Antonio for Leonard — said he loved watching Siakam grow as a player and was thrilled to see the Raptors win the title.
"People always thinking I be mad or feeling some type of way, but every time y'all (did) something who was the first motherf***er to (message) you... every day," he said.
Siakam expounded on his relationship with DeRozan and the rest of his former Raptor teammates.
"People don't know, it's like the relationships you have with those people, it's bigger than anything," he said. "That's family, you can't change that."
DeRozan said he used to go to G-League games to head over to Mississauga to watch Siakam and VanVleet during that 2016-17 season.
"That camaraderie we always had was something else," DeRozan said. "That was the major part of our success."
That love was clear to Raptors fans for years. It — along with their regular season success — made those teams so special.
Ultimately though it came down to post season success and the Raptors could never get over the LeBron James hump that stood in their way.
Siakam didn't say he didn't enjoy last season and in a conversation with DeRozan it might have been awkward to say his favourite year in Toronto was the year after DeRozan left, but maybe there's something to be said about coming up together and working toward a goal even if it isn't achieved.
Maybe it's worth trying to enjoy the journey a little bit more.