Kawhi Leonard led the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship and won the NBA Finals MVP, which marked the first time in league history when a player won a Finals MVP in both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference.
Leonard won his second NBA title and his first with the Toronto Raptors when they thwarted the Golden State Warriors attempt at a three-peat. In 2014, Leonard won the NBA Finals MVP when he helped Tim Duncan and company defeat LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Leonard averaged 28.5 points in the 2019 NBA Finals. Overall in 24 playoff games this season, Leonard averaged 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. In a Game 4 victory against the Warriors, Leonard dropped 36 points and posted 12 rebounds. He scored 22 in the series clincher on game 6.
Superhero from the Great North
In superhero fashion, Leonard hit a Game 7 game-winner to clinch the series against the Philadelphia Sixers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Kawhi’s fadeaway jumper that bounced on the rim three times in what felt like an eternity for the entire nation of Canada. The ball dropped into the basket and the Raptors avoided elimination.
“He’s the best two-way basketball player in the NBA,” said teammate Kyle Lowry.
The Raptors met the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Finals, a match up that seemed inevitable the way the regular season finished up. The Greek Freak and the Bucks boasted the best record in the NBA with 60 wins. However, the Raptors were right behind them with 58 victories.
The Greek Freak could not overpower Kawhi and the Raptors. The Raptors Beat the Freak in six games and advanced to the NBA Finals.
After picking off the Golden State Warriors, the Raptors became the first team from Canada to win the NBA Championship. Even if Leonard does not play another game with the Raptors, he will still go down as a legend in Canadian sports history. Schools, parks, and children throughout Canada will be named after him.
The San Antonio Days
Kawhi Leonard was still a kid and only in his third season as a pro when he won his first NBA Finals MVP.
In 2014, Leonard won his first NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs. Pops and the Spurs defeated LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 5 games. A young Kawhi, only 22 at the time, was a new addition to the Spurs dynasty that included Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili.
Leonard was named NBA Finals MVP for his performance during the 2014 NBA Finals. He averaged 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Spurs. He shot 61.2 percent from the field and 57.9 percent from three-point range.
After six-plus seasons in San Antonio, Leonard’s relationship with head coach Gregg Popovich and the rest of the organization soured over the treatment of a thigh injury. NBA conspiracy theorists insist it was a phantom injury that Leonard manipulated to force his way out of Texas. Toronto was a mere pitstop on his way to Los Angeles with either the Lakers or the Clippers.
At any rate, the Raptors gambled on Leonard knowing that they had a one-and-done situation on their hands. The rest is history.
“Without a doubt, the best thing about this thing is that somehow I wound up on the sideline getting to watch this guy play up close,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “It’s really cool.”
Now that the NBA season is over, let the bidding for Kawhi Leonard’s services begin. The Knicks want any top two free agents they can get. The Clippers have room for two max contracts as well. The Nets recently made moves to clear cap space to pursue Kyrie Irving, but they’d gladly take Leonard.