Norman Powell has revealed that his final goodbye to the Toronto Raptors was a tearful one in a piece published in the Player’s Tribune.
— norman powell (@npowell2404) March 31, 2021
The piece, entitled “The North,” goes into detail about what it was like for him to face the Raptors for the first time on Sunday, mentioning the weirdness of playing against the team so soon after being traded away.
Toronto traded Powell to the Portland Trail Blazers on NBA trade deadline day last week, receiving Rodney Hood and Gary Trent Jr. in the deal.
Powell said he purposely arrived a little late to Sunday’s game, hoping to avoid running into ex-teammates and getting emotional.
“But of course that move never works,” Powell said. “A few minutes after I got there, a bunch of the Raptors started showing up. And I think that’s about when it really started to hit me, like, Oh, man. This is real. This is really goodbye.”
Soon after, Powell said he started to cry.
“It was straight-up waterworks. I started breaking down crying. All the memories that I’d been holding back for those last couple of days, they came rushing back in.”
He mentioned that when he spoke with Kyle Lowry, he gave him one last piece of what Powell called “Kyle wisdom.”
“You will always be a part of this history,” Lowry told him.
Powell said Fred VanVleet knew he had been crying right away.
“So by the time I ran into Fred, it had been a minute now since those waterworks. But if you’ve ever cried like that, you know: even after that sh*t dries… you’re still not fooling anyone. And Fred obviously doesn’t miss a thing,” said Powell.
“First thing he says when he sees me, he goes, ‘Oh, man. You was crying?’ And I just sort of hang my head a little, and laugh. And then Fred laughs. He’s like, ‘It’s alright, brother. Thugs cry too. It’s cool, bro.'”
Earlier in the week, Powell shared a message that he wrote on Instagram thanking the fans for their “love and support” during his six seasons with the team.
“Thank you for embracing me and my Understand The Grind mentality as one of your own,” Powell said.
“The love and support never went unnoticed. I am grateful and blessed with many memories and experiences that I’ll never forget. Toronto will always be in my heart. I’m looking forward to the next chapter and the journey ahead.”
The 27-year-old guard was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2015, but was traded to the Raptors the same day.
This season, in three months with the Raptors, Powell averaged a career-high 19.6 points per game. In his return against Toronto, he finished the game with 13 points and three rebounds in 27 minutes for the Trail Blazers.
However, even in that game, it appeared that Powell himself briefly forgot that he was playing for a new team.
During the start of the game, he went to the wrong side of the court and accidentally lined up with the Raptors for the tipoff.
Norman Powell forgot he's not on the Raptors anymore
Lined up on the wrong side of the court before tipoff 😂 pic.twitter.com/uNeVizCC3e
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 28, 2021
In response, Raptors fans flocked to social media to share their favourite memories of the UCLA product, with #ThankyouNorm trending on Twitter during the game.