Raptors fans open campaign to convince Kawhi Leonard to stay


Kawhi Leonard (2) moves the ball up court during the second half against the Denver Nuggets, in San Antonio. (Eric Gay/AP)

With the acquisition of Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors fans are feeling both joy and trepidation.

On one hand, the Raptors have, if he’s healthy and back to the player he once was, a top-five level talent in the world, and a man with the capability to win MVP and lead this franchise to its first-ever Finals appearance.

On the other hand, is the fact he’s coming off an injury that saw him only play nine games last season, got himself traded from the San Antonio Spurs because he said he wants to be in Los Angeles – particularly with the Lakers – and, the big kicker, has just this coming season left on his contract.

Needless to say, most fans would rather Leonard stay long-term and cast away any doubt whether the decision to deal a franchise icon like DeMar DeRozan for a single season of his services was the right call.

Thus, in an effort to keep their new favourite Raptor around longer, some intrepid Raptors fans have decided to create a campaign called “Kawhi or Die” that is collecting signatures from Raptors fans to show Leonard their love for him and why he should stick around a little longer.

“First and foremost, it’s an opportunity for us as fans to welcome Kawhi to our beautiful city, the country of Canada, and to the basketball team we are all so passionate about,” literature on the website reads.

“The easiest way to help is simply be counted. If one in 10 Canadians digitally signed the form and took a minute or two to put their passion for the Raptors into words or relates an experience about the frenzy of the Vince Carter days, or talks about what it means to them to have a player of Kawhi Leonard wear the Raptors uniform. We would be talking about 3.6 million entries.

“If we make enough noise, I can pretty much guarantee it will come to Kawhi’s attention at some point!”

At the time of this post, the website has collected 40 signatures so far, with messages ranging from straight and to the point such as “PLEASE STAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and “Let’s get it!” to longer heartfelt exposés.

Cynics will say that internet petitions are a dime a dozen, and they don’t lead to anything, but given the fact Leonard, himself, hasn’t said anything since he was traded to the Raptors no one other than his closest confidants really knows what he’s thinking. So you can’t definitively say that a gesture like this would have no effect on him and his decision.

It certainly can’t hurt it, at the very least.

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