When the Toronto Raptors take on the Los Angeles Clippers Monday night (10:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet, Sportsnet ONE and Sportsnet NOW) old abandonment issues from Raptors past may threaten to swell up again.
After all, nearly every star the Raptors have had, ultimately, wanted to move on from Toronto.
Damon Stoudamire, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and, of course, Kawhi Leonard.
But unlike those other four, there shouldn’t be any ill will for Leonard because of what he accomplished with the Raptors and the destination he chose.
Leonard is the only Finals MVP in history to begin the season after winning a championship with another team. With that said, despite only playing for one season, he appeared to truly enjoy his time playing in Toronto, even revealing in a press conference in L.A. Saturday that he was always open to the trade from the San Antonio Spurs to the Raptors.
“I never went in with a negative mindset,” he told reporters. “Playing with Cory Joseph in San Antonio, him being from that area in Toronto, I knew what the city brought, just going out there, playing games, hanging out with him and his friends, him taking me around, showing me the city.
“I always felt positive with the trade and the front office. I knew it was great already with [Raptors president Masai Ujiri] being in there so it was never a negative thing, I was always open-minded about it.”
Kawhi Leonard is still feeling the love from Canadians in the United States.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 10, 2019
And so, if you still feel sour about Leonard leaving Toronto to play for the Clippers, you may want to take a page out of his own book and broaden your vision of the scenario and think about it this way: He’s a man who, no matter what, appeared to want to go home.
As Donnovan Bennett said in his video essay — which can be seen at the top of this post — when Leonard’s decision came down in July, John Tavares was universally praised by Toronto fans for choosing home, so why can those same fans be mad at Leonard for making the exact same decision?
Leonard offered Raptors fans moments and memories they’ll never forget in their lifetime. Something to keep in mind when taking in the game Monday night.