Best of NBA Finals Media Day: Drake, ‘Normal guy’ Kawhi and more

Masai Ujiri on the journey the Toronto Raptors have taken to get to this finals appearance, including the trade of DeMar DeRozan, and players buying into the system with the coaches.

Every year, basketball’s biggest names and those who cover them descend upon the host city of Game 1 of the NBA Finals. And every year, mayhem ensues.

This year, Toronto took centre stage as the Raptors prepare to take on the dynastic Golden State Warriors in hopes of being crowned champions.

NBA Finals Media Day is filled with great player quotes, silly moments, and plenty of fodder to chew on off the court before the action starts on it.

Here’s a roundup of some of the best quotes to come out of Wednesday’s media availabilities:

Steph Curry on returning to his old stompin’ grounds:

“I lived here for a couple years, went to school out here,” Curry said of Toronto. “My wife grew up in Markham right down the street, so a lot of family history and a lot of that side of the family still lives here. I look forward to coming back here every regular season and now to be in the Finals, something I’ve honestly been looking forward to, if they ever made it. So it’s here and I’m gonna enjoy it.”

Kawhi Leonard on the support of fans in Toronto:

“Now I’m here for 41 games during the regular season, you get to live in a city … guys and girls are wearing hats, jerseys, [you see] how much support is really around the city. And now in the playoffs, you get to see everybody outside the arena, seeing how excited they are for the game and how much support is there too. It’s been an exciting year.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr had plenty of kind words for Raptors fans, too:

Masai Ujiri on former Raptors leaders DeMar DeRozan and Dwane Casey:

“Give Dwane Casey credit,” Ujiri told reporters, when asked about current head coach Nick Nurse. “He prepared us for this, too. It’s not something that started in one year … I want to say Dwane Casey and DeMar DeRozan are part of this. They are part of our journey and how far this has come.”

Draymond Green on his defensive prowess:

“As a competitor, if you’re trying to do something meaningful, if you don’t have the mindset that you’re the best ever, you’ve failed already. So if you don’t have the mindset that you are the best reporter ever, then you already failed. And that’s been my mindset since I can remember. That will be my mindset as long as I can remember anything — that I am the best ever at what I do,” Green told reporters from the podium. “And everyday that I step on the basketball floor I will strive to be that. But my mindset will always be as such, as I am the best to do what I do. And that’ll give me a shot at being the best. But before you can ever reach for anything, you have to believe it. You don’t just mistakenly become great at something. You probably, at one point at one time or another, believed that you can be great at that. And then you worked to get great at that, and you reached that greatness. But you don’t mistakenly become great.”

Norm Powell on Drake’s sideline antics:

“It’s kind of funny how much his love and passion for the game and for the team is really affecting the opponents. Having opposing coaches come out and talk about what he’s doing and how he shouldn’t be allowed to do all that, you can see that it’s probably bothering them a little bit.”

Powell also indulged in a very Canadian moment with Guillermo of Jimmy Kimmel Live fame.

Klay Thompson on his temporary Hotline Bling ban:

“He’s a great artist. Do I like him as a Raptors fan? No. But I like him as a musician. He’s extremely talented. But I will definitely skip the song if I don’t like it, and if it’s one of his soft R&B songs I’m gonna skip it because in ‘kill mode’ right now. Trying to get these four games so I’ll skip Hotline Bling of anything along that line.”

Thompson also had a funny appearance on ESPN’s The Jump in which he refused to call Drake anything but “Aubrey” and showed some love to all the “rowdy Canadians” outside his hotel.

“I mean it was the nicest heckle ever — it was like, ‘Boo, I hope you have a terrible day,” he said with a laugh. “It wasn’t like cuss words or anything so I appreciate that, I appreciate the respect. Thank you, Canada.”

Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry on how “normal” Kawhi Leonard is:

“For me, I just see him as Kawhi. He comes in, gets his work done, and then off the court he’s just with us like everyone else,” said Siakam. “Literally, he’s normal.”

“He’s literally just a regular guy like everybody, you know, everybody else,” said Lowry. “He’s not this, he’s not that, he’s just a regular cool dude … he’s a fun guy.”

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