Is this fi­nally the Rap­tors’ year?

DeMar DeRozan is gone, but su­per­star Kawhi Leonard is cer­tainly help­ing the heal­ing process for Rap­tors fans. Af­ter the team’s quick start this sea­son, the city is start­ing to get ex­cited. Post City hits the court and chats with fan fave Nor­man Pow­ell

Annex Post - - NEWS - By Ron John­son

Great start so far. Is it time to plan the pa­rade route?

It’s early, you know. We’re just try­ing to build our team chem­istry, build our good habits and win games. We’ve been mak­ing some mis­takes, so we’re try­ing to cor­rect those, and if we con­tinue to win games while do­ing that, all the bet­ter.

Los­ing DeMar DeRozan was big. How was the locker room head­ing into this sea­son?

I think it’s been good. All the guys on our team, we have high­char­ac­ter guys who are com­mit­ted to win­ning and do­ing what­ever it takes, sac­ri­fic­ing them­selves for the team. Our locker room is great. The vet­er­ans do a great job of in­cor­po­rat­ing the young guys. And the young guys do a great job of pick­ing the brains of the vets.

So-called ex­perts seem to be look­ing past the Rap­tors to the big names on the Celtics and 76ers. Does that add any ex­tra fire for you guys?

Hon­estly, no. We just worry about our­selves and what we need to do to get bet­ter as a team as the sea­son goes on.

Tell me about the through-the-roof scor­ing and lack of de­fence this sea­son. What’s up?

It’s an ad­just­ment, try­ing to ad­just to new rules and the of­fi­ci­at­ing with less hands, not be­ing able to touch guys. So play­ers are still try­ing to ad­just and fig­ure out where they are able to de­fend while not pick­ing up any ticky-tack fouls.

Tell me about the new guys on the team Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green?

It’s been a lot of fun. I met Kawhi when I was in high school, and I’ve talked to him a lit­tle bit. And I met Danny dur­ing our sum­mer work­outs, and he’s a great guy. He came out to my event and talked to the kids and gave back to my com­mu­nity af­ter meet­ing him for just three days. That shows you what kind of high-char­ac­ter guy he is about giv­ing back. And that’s a big thing for me. It’s a lot of fun to have guys like that with a cham­pi­onship pedi­gree and talk to them about their ex­pe­ri­ences at San An­to­nio and all their cham­pi­onship runs. So it’s a lot of fun.

I heard the bench mob went on Serge Ibaka’s cooking show, and he cooked up some lambs’ brain. How was that?

It was very in­ter­est­ing. We were very ner­vous. In pre­vi­ous episodes, he’s done worms, cow tongue, chicken feet, and we just didn’t know what it was go­ing to be. And hon­estly I didn’t even see the raw brains in the mid­dle of the plate, so when he lifted it up I thought it was like chicken or some­thing. I thought it was chicken the way it was cooked and the way it looked, but then he said you gotta spread it, and that’s when the smell and ev­ery­thing came out. Yeah, it was in­ter­est­ing.

What do you like to do for fun in the city?

Go out to eat. Toronto has a lot of di­verse com­mu­ni­ties and food so it’s al­ways nice to go out and try dif­fer­ent things and ex­pand my hori­zons in the food realm.

What are a few of your favourites?

Right now, my favourites restau­rants are Sotto Sotto, I like Copaca­bana and Ritz Caribbean — that’s my go-to for Caribbean and Ja­maican food.

What is your idea of per­fect hap­pi­ness?

Video games.

Do you play with any of the guys?

Me, Delon [Wright], Fred [VanVleet] and C.J. [Miles] all play. Me and Delon play FIFA all the time.

Who’s bet­ter?

Me.

What is your great­est fear?

Fail­ure.

Who do you most ad­mire?

My mom.

What is your great­est ex­trav­a­gance?

Noth­ing, I don’t re­ally go out and buy things. I buy my ne­ces­si­ties. Prob­a­bly the most ex­pen­sive things are my house and my mom’s house. So I’ll say my mom’s house.

What is your prized pos­ses­sion?

A pic­ture of me and my un­cle when I was younger. We were in a restau­rant. He was sit­ting one way, and I was sit­ting one way, and we had our arms crossed. My un­cle was a fa­ther fig­ure in my life, and he died of can­cer, so yeah, I feel like that’s my most prized pos­ses­sion.

What is your per­sonal motto?

“Un­der­stand the grind.” It’s a mo­ti­va­tional tool me and my friends came up with when we were in high school to help with fo­cus in on our goals and what we want out of life.

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