Norman Powell pens official goodbye to Toronto in touching essay

Arun Srinivasan
·Writer
·3-min read

Norman Powell penned his official goodbye to Toronto Raptors fans in a moving, bittersweet essay aptly titled "The North" for The Players' Tribune on Wednesday. 

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After spending his entire six-year career with the Raptors, Powell was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers on March 25 in exchange for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood. 

Powell previously stated he didn't want to be traded, and reiterated that when he spoke to Toronto and Portland media after the trade and again after suiting up against his former team on Friday. The 27-year-old also wrote a heartfelt Instagram post, but thanked the fan base, spoke about the experience of being traded and summed up his experience in Toronto in expansive detail in Wednesday's essay. The veteran guard said he spoke to OG Anunoby afterwards among several other teammates, but began to cry when he hugged assistant coach Jama Mahlalela. 

Norman Powell officially said goodbye to the Toronto Raptors and their fans in a moving essay for The Players' Tribune. (Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports)
Norman Powell officially said goodbye to the Toronto Raptors and their fans in a moving essay for The Players' Tribune. (Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports)

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.

Jama and I took a walk down the hall, had a heart-to-heart, talked about my future, talked about how it’s okay to have these emotions, talked about how so many changes in life can end up being blessings in disguise.

"Then we ran into Kyle, and I’ll be honest ... I had to cry some more. Kyle, along with DeMar, he’s been my true vet, so there’s a lot of history there. And when I saw him, he just embraced me — let me get those emotions out. And then he gave me one final piece of Kyle wisdom.

He said, “You will always be a part of this history."

Powell said he spoke with his best friend and long-time teammate Fred VanVleet afterwards, where VanVleet told him it's okay to cry and provided him with some validation amid the whirlwind cycle of being traded. 

"That moment with Fred, it meant a lot. He’s my best friend," Powell wrote. "But beyond that, I feel like he’s been this driving force behind a lot of how I’ve grown as a player ... and vice versa. That’s just how it’s always been with us. We’ve pushed each other. As competitors, for sure — it’s that second-round pick / undrafted dude hunger, I think. That underdog mentality. I mean, we had to stop playing one-on-one against each other, there had to be a ban on it, because of how competitive we got, all the little scraps we would get in. But it was always about friendship with us first.

Freddy’s my Day One.

And it’s tough as hell, the idea of not being teammates with that dude anymore."

Every part of Powell's essay is inch-perfect and there are several new stories in there worth going through. We'd be doing him a disservice by sharing them all here, but we'd be remiss if we didn't include Powell's ruminations on what he wants his legacy to be in Toronto. 

I mean, I hope y’all talk first about Kyle, and DeMar, and Fred, and Kawhi, and Pascal and OG and so many others. I hope y’all talk about them until you run out of voice. But then at some point, just before the end of that conversation, I guess I like to imagine someone chiming in maybe, like, Yo — also? Shoutout to NORM. Dude worked his ass off. Had nothing handed to him, but he was a grinder. He was tough. And he LOVED being a Raptor.

Norm Powell, man. Yeah.

He was one of us.

Farewell again, Norm. You will always be a Toronto Raptor.

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