Here are two facts that we know to be true in this world: Kawhi Leonard is loved by many and Canadians are very nice. These two truths came together last night in Vancouver when Canadians gave Kawhi the warmest welcome even though he no longer plays for the Raptors. The local reception of Kawhi in Vancouver was beyond heartwarming and earned Canada a shoutout from the man himself.
On Thursday, October 17, the L.A. Clippers and the Dallas Mavericks faced off in a pre-season game on Canadian soil in Vancouver. Though the Clippers lost to the Mavericks 102-87, it’s safe to say Kawhi had a little victory of his own when he stepped on the court and the jam-packed stadium went absolutely wild.
According to CBC News, the Los Angeles Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard in a trade deal with the Toronto Raptors back in July 2019. After a legendary season for the Raptors, Canadian fans were choked to see Kawhi go. I mean, we just got fired up about basketball again. Regardless, Canada's sweetheart headed west to the California coast.
Last night, a few months later, Kawhi stepped back onto the court in the Great North to the familiar sound of unwavering Canadian support.
Very warm reception for Kawhi Leonard in Vancouver. https://t.co/UzQIvSempi— Andrew Greif (@Andrew Greif)1571366631.0
After Kawhi was showered with love and applause at Thursday night's preseason game, he was interviewed by NEWSTALK1010. In the video interview, Kawhi spoke to how he would expect nothing different from Canadians.
“Even after me signing with the Clippers, you know, Canadians came up to me when I was in America, or vice versa when I was up there, they said thank you for everything I’ve done. They are very nice people,” said Kawhi.
Here is the reception Canadian fans gave Kawhi Leonard in his first game in the country since leaving the Raptors.… https://t.co/YKzvE01c3V— NEWSTALK1010 (@NEWSTALK1010)1571383990.0
The sports star also went on the give a shoutout to Vancouver as well, saying “It’s a great basketball town. Great city. You see how they came out tonight, full building. It was great just to be back,” and our hearts nearly exploded. Kawhi is no stranger to Canada and we're delighted to hear that he still loves to come back.
Though we will always miss Kawhi in that Raptors jersey, it's now totally clear that there is still some serious love between Kawhi and Canada.
According to Sportsnet, Kawhi had a bit of a slow start at last night’s game, ending it off with 13 points, three rebounds, and two assists. Some growing pains are to be expected on a new team in a new season, and Sportsnet explains that “it’s natural for experienced players to get a slow start in pre-season games.”
In conclusion, Kawhi is a legend and Canadians are nice. We're looking forward to seeing how Kawhi fares on his hometown team and what the Raptors will bring for the 2019/2020 season.