Serge Ibaka pens heartfelt goodbye to Raptors fans after joining Clippers

Arun Srinivasan
·3-min read

Serge Ibaka won’t be returning to the Toronto Raptors for the 2020-21 season, but as far as he’s concerned, his heart will always be with the city and the franchise.

Ibaka reportedly signed a two-year, $19 million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, a development that he appeared to confirm in his goodbye post, delivered on Twitter and Instagram on Sunday afternoon.

“How to explain what Toronto, Canada, and the Raptors mean to me? I was welcomed to a new country and a new team more than three years ago and I felt at home from day one. I feel really blessed to have played for this city, these fans, and this organization,” Ibaka wrote.

Ibaka arrived in February of 2017 through a trade with the Orlando Magic, in exchange for Terence Ross and a future first-round pick. The move immediately paid dividends for the Raptors, presenting the team with a big who could stretch the floor with his shooting, and Ibaka was a strong rim protector for the majority of his tenure.

The 31-year-old center established himself as a vital part of the Raptors’ 2019 championship run, notably hitting a crucial three pointer with his body twisting away from the basket during Game 7 of the second-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers, and added 20 points during Game 4 of the NBA Finals, keeping the Golden State Warriors’ bigs off balance.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 12: Serge Ibaka #9 of the Toronto Raptors in action against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on February 12, 2020 in New York City.Brooklyn Nets defeated the Toronto Raptors 101-91.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Serge Ibaka wrote a heartfelt goodbye to the Toronto Raptors and their fans after agreeing to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency. (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Ibaka, however, will be remembered for far more than his on-court contributions. During his four seasons with the Raptors, Ibaka emerged as a fan favourite in large part because of his candid interviews, video segments, charismatic personality and for his unmatched fashion sense. Warmly welcomed in Toronto, Ibaka made an indelible impression on the fan base, while serving as a de facto mentor for many members of the Raptors’ emerging young core.

It’s an opportune time for Ibaka to take advantage of free agency, coming off one of the best seasons of his career. Ibaka averaged a career-best 15.4 points per game, along with 8.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks during the 2019-20 season.

Bon voyage, Serge. Your impact on the Raptors and the City certainly won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

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