After Kawhi Leonard helped deliver the Toronto Raptors their first-ever NBA title, all eyes have quickly shifted to the superstar’s impending free agency.
Fans across the country have showered Leonard with attention seemingly everywhere he’s gone in public since the Raptors’ season ended, including at Niagara Falls, Home Depot, and at the Rogers Centre during a recent Toronto Blue Jays game. And with every new destination where Leonard pops up, speculation and angst surrounding where he’ll play next season only intensifies.
While all the attention Leonard’s received is certainly warranted given the monumental impact of the championship he helped deliver the city, Toronto mayor John Tory and Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia are providing fans a new, less invasive way to show their appreciation.
The pair, along with Paramount Fine Foods CEO Mohamad Fakih, announced the launch of a website on Saturday appropriately titled KawhiUShouldStay.com, which allows fans to sign a petition and leave comments for Leonard with the goal of convincing the forward to stay in Toronto going forward.
“You know what this represents for people? This represents a way in which we can be passionate about getting Kawhi Leonard to stay in Toronto, but to do it in the Toronto way,” Tory said about the new website. “The Toronto way says we do it quietly, we do it in a determined way, but we make sure we all make our voice heard through something like a petition so that he can enjoy our city.”
When speaking with media after the website’s launch, Bhatia also encouraged Raptors fans to stop harassing Leonard when he’s out in the city.
“I’m talking right now on all the fans all over Canada and I want to put a request in the media right now because our superstar, Kawhi Leonard, he’s going out in the city and he’s being like paparazzi, he’s being harassed, he’s being, you know, followed,” Bhatia said. “We are not giving him the space, which he deserves to have.
“…all of us all over Canada, we want him to stay. I believe he understands that. But please, when you see him somewhere don’t run after him for the pictures or anything, just say thank you to him for getting us the championship, being a part of a team which got us the championship.”
Tory and Bhatia assured that comments left for Leonard on the site will be read by him personally “on his own leisure time.”
The petition, which has a goal of reaching 100,000 signatures, is already up to 4,255 at the time of this post’s publication with that total rapidly climbing.