It's official — the Kawhi Leonard trade is now complete, after the forward passed his physical with the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. It's supposed to be a momentous occasion for Raptors fans, since their team has just acquired a superstar that could finally break the dreaded playoff curse. But they still aren't entirely sold on him.
In his first public photo since the trade, Leonard cracked what seems to be an actual smile — a rare display of emotion for the NBA champion. For a man of very few words, this should have been a reassuring sign for Raptors fans; a slight indication that Leonard might actually be excited to play for Toronto.
But the 'smile' was questionable at best. It was more a smirk than anything. Some people defended Leonard by saying that's just what he looks like when he's happy, but Raptors fans weren't convinced.
Because Leonard doesn't talk much, we never know what's really going on in his head. In the weeks leading up to the trade, he rarely made an effort to talk to local media, nor did he give any indication that he was looking forward to becoming a Raptor. Up until now, he still refuses to reveal the simple truth that everybody is dying to know — Is he happy or is he miserable?
As a result, people are left making assumptions on how he feels based only on what they see — his appearance, his body language, etcetera. In that particular photo, his body language apparently said it all:
Looks like me after I caught my wife in bed with my best friend— Barry McCockiner (@Sp0rtsTalkJo3) July 20, 2018
So much pain behind those eyes 😂— Jay (@MichiganRisen) July 20, 2018
The most forced smile I’ve ever seen— none of my tweets are it (@tankszn) July 20, 2018
Looks like a hostage situation— okcthundercover (@okcthundercover) July 20, 2018
That is the definition of a fake smile.— Scott Barnes (@ScottBarnes561) July 21, 2018
He looks tired and as if he’s going through the motions.— Leonel Miclis (@LMiclis) July 21, 2018
that's the "Get Out" smile— Russell Jarosz (@RussellJ1216) July 20, 2018
That’s the most uncomfortable smile I’ve ever seen— Comer Culo (@travietrav202) July 20, 2018
He better put on for Toronto— Juan Cena (@elpolloloco801) July 21, 2018
It looks photoshopped lol— Yung Bull (@daniel_amrou) July 21, 2018
Even a robot thinks Leonard isn't really feeling the trade. When the photo was run through Microsoft's Emotion API, which takes a facial expression in an image as an input and returns the degrees of emotions exhibited, Leonard was found to only be 38% happy with the Raptors and 60% neutral.
Of course, such results are in no way accurate to what Leonard is really feeling, but the fact that someone had to rely on an emotion-detecting software just to get something out of him shows how difficult it is to fully love the guy.
It's a little frustrating for Raptors fans to deal with a player that withholds so much of his feelings. They just aren't used to it. Toronto is a city brimming with pride, and almost every player that's been fortunate enough to play for it has whole-heartedly embraced its people and culture. That's what made it so hard to say goodbye to DeMar DeRozan, undeniably the Raptors' most loyal player in history.
In Leonard's defense, it's too early to say whether or not he'll eventually love Toronto. But at the rate he's going, he's got a lot of work to do to win over the hearts of the NBA's biggest and most passionate fans.