Kawhi Leonard greeted with tribute video, standing ovation from Raptors fans in Toronto return

Dec 11 2019, 10:03 pm

The coronation is complete, long live Kawhi.

Kawhi Leonard made his long-awaited return to Toronto with the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, receiving his Raptors championship ring during a pre-game ceremony.

Ahead of his first game in Toronto since their historic championship run last season, Kawhi told media that he expected to get booed by the home crowd, but he couldn’t have been more wrong.

Just at first mention of his name, the crowd shot to their feet and erupted in cheers.

As Kawhi did the rounds and shook hands with his former teammates and executives, it was evident from the smiles, that they were happy to see him, particularly his moment with Kyle Lowry — the man who gave the NBA Finals MVP his championship ring.

The Raptors also played a tribute video from Kawhi’s one year with the club.

It’s important to note that the tribute video extended beyond the big screen, lighting up the court with the footsteps Kawhi took during his iconic shot.

Many NBA players have received tributes from their former teams over the years, but Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was blown away by what Toronto displayed.

“That’s the best that I’ve seen since I’ve been in the league,” said Rivers, who played his first season in the NBA back in 1983-1984.

The praise may have energized the ‘Board Man,’ as once the game started, he became a player on a mission.

Leonard put on a show to the tune of 23 points, five rebounds, and six assists, leading his team to a 112-92 blowout win over the Raptors.

It marked the third loss in four games for the Raptors, as the team has struggled as of late.

“We put ourselves in predicaments where we are getting good shots, but we’ve got to create better shots,” Lowry told reporters after the game.

Leonard, meanwhile, was feeling the love.

“They did a good job putting things together,” Kawhi told a media scrum following the game.

Kawhi also let reporters know which message he chose to get inscribed on the inside of his ring.

In the most Kawhi fashion, he chose one straight-forward message in emoji form: the middle finger.

With this anticipated match out of the way, Toronto can now focus on rebounding against the Brooklyn Nets on December 12.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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