By Jasminee Sahoye
“Eating Caribbean food with the homie … taste amazing,” Pickering native and NBA champion Cory Joseph tweeted last Friday while in his hometown at a Caribbean restaurant.
One of his fans tweeted to him “Could you please play for the Raptors. Canada needs your skill set!” and it may appear to be a coincidence that his wish was granted, as the 23-year-old agreed to a four-year, $30-million deal with the Toronto Raptors.
The Canadian point guard is expected to address the Raptors’ need for a backup to starter Kyle Lowry.
Joseph was drafted 29th overall in 2011 and spent the first four seasons of his professional career with the San Antionio Spurs, winning a championship in the 2013-14 season.
He appeared in 79 games in the 2014-15 season and averaged 6.8 points and 2.4 assists in 18.3 minutes, primarily in a reserve role.
The upcoming NBA season will mark the first time since 2008 that Joseph has performed regularly in front of local fans.
After four seasons as Tony Parker’s understudy with the Spurs, Joseph is set to become the most important homegrown contributor in Raptors’ history.
Jamaal Magloire, a Scarborough native, spent the final season of his career with the Raptors, playing 34 games in 2011-12. But Joseph joins the club as he enters his prime.
In 2007, Joseph’s Pickering High School Trojans clung to a two-point edge over Rexdale’s Father Henry Carr Crusaders and his team’s hopes of winning the provincial title depended on Joseph stretching their lead.
At 15, Joseph was three years younger than most other players on the court and the stakes were the highest he had yet faced, with four seconds remaining in an OFSAA semifinal.
At 17, he left his parents and siblings to follow his dreams of making it big in pro basketball.
Both his parents are former college players and older brother Devoe plays pro basketball in France.