Kawhi Leonard joins choose business as 2-time Finals MVP|CBC Sports
Kawhi Leonard’s very first season with the Toronto Raptors started with his now-infamous laugh. It ended with him getting the ultimate victory.
The Toronto Raptors have clinched the NBA championship title for the very first time in franchise history. Here’s how Raptors fever took over Toronto– and Canada– though the season. 3: 47
Kawhi Leonard’s first season with the Toronto Raptors began with his now-infamous laugh.
It ended with him getting the ultimate victory.
The best player on the league’s recently crowned best group is an NBA Finals MVP for the second time. Toronto finally sits atop the basketball universe, with Leonard averaging 28.5 points in a six-game finals success over the Golden State Warriors to lead the Raptors to their very first champion.
He arguably ended any argument about who the finest two-way gamer in the sport is at this moment.
” This is what I play basketball for,” Leonard said. “This is what I exercise for.”
The King of the North, as they’ve been calling Leonard in Toronto, was King of the Playoffs. He’s the third player to win Finals MVP with 2 franchises, joining just Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James.
Possibly never ever more so than Thursday night.
After missing out on many of last season with a leg injury, after having his dedication questioned, after getting traded to Toronto, Leonard returned to basketball’s mountaintop. He thrust both arms high into the air when it was over, letting out a scream of pleasure. He even enabled himself a small smile when he hoisted the MVP prize.
” He’s just a rival,” Warriors safeguard Stephen Curry said. “We appreciate that, for sure. He’s shown that again this whole playoff run.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo will probably win the NBA’s MVP award in a couple of weeks. James Harden and Paul George are the other finalists. And while all three of those gamers had splendid routine seasons, the post-season was Leonard’s individual display.
He scored 732 points in the playoffs. Just Michael Jordan (759) and LeBron James (748) ever scored more in a single post-season. Leonard ended up with 14 games of 30 points or more in these playoffs. The only gamers with more in a single post-season are Jordan (16 in 1992), Hakeem Olajuwon (16 in 1995) and Kobe Bryant (15 in 2009).
” Without a doubt, the very best aspect of this thing is that in some way I wound up on the sideline getting to watch this man play up close,” stated Raptors coach Nick Nurse, who won an NBA title in his very first season as a head coach in the league. “It’s truly cool.”
Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam integrated for 1,187 points this postseason, tied with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen for 2nd-most by a duo in a single postseason in NBA history.
Only LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had more in 2012 (1,222).
Leonard was the undisputed leader. When the Raptors lost Video game 2 of the NBA Finals in your home and gave up home-court advantage in the series, Nurse strolled into a very glum locker room and advised his group that it simply needed to win either Game 3 or Game 4 at Oracle Arena to reclaim control of the series.
Some nodded in arrangement.
Leonard was not one of them, saying, “Let’s go get both.”
They got both.
And then, on their return journey to Oracle for Game 6, they got one more. They closed Oracle with a title-clincher.
” I do not know that any people will argue with me that he’s the very best two-way gamer in the NBA,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said.
Getting Leonard was simply one of a bold series of relocations Ujiri made in the last 12 months. He fired last season’s coach of the year in Dwane Casey and worked with Nurse. He traded away three gamers at midseason for Marc Gasol. And he took the threat that Leonard would be both happy adequate and healthy adequate to take the Raptors to the latest and greatest of heights.
The trade that sent out DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio for Leonard was high-risk, high-reward. Leonard was obtained on July 18 and officially introduced as training camp was starting on Sept.24 He can end up being a totally free agent on June 30 and he’ll likely make in excess of $32 million US next season no matter the length of time an offer he winds up signing– and whether that remains in Toronto or someplace else.
” This is the location for him,” Ujiri stated.
Despite what’s next, Leonard’s remarkable post-season won’t quickly be forgotten.
There was the four-bounce-off-the-rim, at-the-buzzer dive shot from the corner to beat Philadelphia in Game 7 of the 2nd round. A 15- point 4th quarter to lift the Raptors past Milwaukee in the pivotal Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. A 17- point third quarter at Oracle Arena in Game 4 of the finals, as the Raptors took control of the video game and the series.
” You can constantly see in his eyes that at any provided time he can sort of take over,” Pascal Siakam said.
Leonard can be thought of as enigmatic or anti-social.
He’s not really either of those things. He’s just quiet.
He hardly ever opens about anything. He does not discuss his personal life. He rarely goes over the murder of his dad, which took place when Leonard was playing in high school. He scored 17 points in a video game the day after his daddy was shot and eliminated, perhaps the supreme proof that he’s always been capable of shutting out whatever else when he steps onto a court.
” Once it took place, I considered it a lot,” Leonard said. “But as I got older, I practically just really stopped considering it. I believe it just offered me a sense and feel that life and basketball are two different things and simply actually enjoy your time and moments. Like I always say, this is basketball; just head out there and have enjoyable. These are going to be the finest years of my life, playing this game.”