After spending seven-plus years with the Toronto Raptors, it's understandable that Jose Calderon was a bit off-kilter on Monday in his first game back in Toronto as a member of the Detroit Pistons, who acquired him back in January in the three-team deal that sent Rudy Gay north of the border and the Tayshaun Prince-Ed Davis-Austin Daye trio to the Memphis Grizzlies. He was bound to feel nostalgic remembering the 525 games he'd played for the Dinos, and that's before the standing ovation and emotion-stirring video tribute. All that love's pretty disorienting, you know?
So maybe we shouldn't have been surprised when, after scoring 11 points on 5 for 6 shooting and dishing six dimes in the first half, Calderon took a familiar path to the locker room at intermission ... except that, these days, that ain't the right locker room anymore:
As you can see in the video above, Calderon didn't get too far down the hall before realizing his error. "They called me back really quick," he said after the game, according to Ian Harrison of The Associated Press. "It was just three or four steps."
Amazingly, the wrong turn was a mistake Calderon's fellow Pistons had previously kidded him about making, according to Eric Koreen of the National Post:
Calderon felt it as soon as he entered the Air Canada Centre, bypassing the home locker room to head for the less-luxurious visitors’ room.
“My teammates were joking about that,” Calderon said. “Like, ‘Don’t turn left here now. Keep going, keep going.’ Everything. Everything has been weird.”
The gentle ribbing did not help. After the first half, Calderon opted to go on the left side of the dividing barrier instead of the right. Again, he was heading for the Raptors room. He quickly corrected his mistake, and flashed that familiar grin.
It was about the only misstep the 31-year-old Spanish point guard made on Monday. The Raptors' all-time leader in assists had nine helpers (and just one turnover) in his game-high 43 minutes, including two on consecutive late-fourth-quarter triples by Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko that pushed Detroit's lead from two to seven, giving the Pistons the breathing room they needed to come away with a 108-98 win.
Calderon finished with 19 points on 8 for 12 shooting, second only to Pistons forward Greg Monroe, who led the way with 24 points. The loss officially eliminated the Raptors from playoff contention in the Eastern Conference; Detroit had already clinched a lottery berth.
While the Pistons might not have entered Toronto with a playoff spot to play for, Detroit's players came to the ACC intent on pulling out a win for their point guard, as reserve forward Jerebko told Sportsnet.ca's Holly MacKenzie:
"I was playing as hard as I could," Jerebko said. "I wanted to get that win for Jose. He's been here for eight years ... The fans here love him and he just wanted to come out and get win and I'm glad we could help him do that."
And Calderon, for his part, was probably pretty glad that they helped him avoid going any further down that hallway.
Video via the Raptors' official YouTube channel.