Path 27
Sports

Leonard quiet on future as Raptors celebrate with parade

Path 27

TORONTO (AP) — Fresh off leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title, Kawhi Leonard received the key to the city at Monday’s championship parade and rally.

For now, however, the two-way star and two-time NBA Finals MVP isn’t saying whether he’ll use it to keep a door open or close it behind him and move on.

Leonard spent several days partying with his teammates in Las Vegas and Los Angeles after last Thursday’s Game 6 clincher over Golden State, returning to Toronto in time to ride in one of five open-top double-decker buses that carried the Raptors along a crowded parade route.

A three-time All-Star and two-time NBA defensive player of the year, Leonard is expected to decline the player option on the final year of his contract and become a free agent. Toronto can offer him a five-year deal worth around $190 million, one year and some $50 million more than any other team.

Before stepping on stage Monday for a ceremony in the square outside Toronto’s City Hall, Leonard said he hasn’t been thinking about his future. Instead, he’s trying to extend the celebratory vibe as long as possible.

Trending:
Maskless GOP Rep Tells Pelosi to 'Come and Get Me' as Capitol Police Are Ordered to Arrest Those Who Don't Comply with Mandate

“I’m enjoying this” he said. “It’s not time to stress, it’s still time to have some fun. I’ve just been enjoying my experience.”

After two months of playoff basketball, Leonard doesn’t have a lot of time left to be a fun guy — free agency gets underway at 6 p.m. Eastern on June 30.

“I’m going to take the right time,” he said. “You don’t need too many days to figure it out. We’ll see what happens. Once that time comes, then we’ll all lay the pros and cons out.”

Visibly bothered by soreness during stretches of the Eastern Conference Finals against Milwaukee, Leonard declined to say how much pain he endured en route to winning his second career title.

“We’re always battling through things,” he said. “You know, knee pains, ankles, fingers. Everybody was just grinding it out.”

Injured for all but nine games in his final season with San Antonio, Leonard played 60 regular-season games for Toronto and 24 more in the postseason, upping his minutes once April arrived.

While winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy was an obvious success, Leonard said he has enjoyed all aspects of his season north of the border, even the varied Canadian weather.

“It was a good experience, experiencing Mother Nature, all four seasons,” he said. “Man, it was a great experience. Everybody off the court was great. The fans, just meeting people in Canada. It’s been fun.”

Fans chanted “Stay! Stay! Stay!” when Toronto Mayor John Tory presented Leonard with the key.

Related:
Simone Biles Has Dropped Out Yet Again

Later, the festive mood of the event was marred by gunfire. Four people were shot, leading to a stampede. Three people were arrested and two guns were recovered, police said.

Leonard is one of three Raptors starters with uncertain futures. Center Marc Gasol also has a player option, while guard Danny Green is a free agent.

Guards Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet and forward Serge Ibaka are heading into the final year of their contracts.

Ibaka and Leonard have become friends in their time together as teammates.

“I’ve been talking with him a lot during the season and in the playoffs, but after we won, I can see the man is happy,” Ibaka said. “That’s the most important. We play this sport because we want to enjoy and have fun and be happy and be somewhere people love you. I’m sure he feels that people here love him, and after this moment, that’s the most important.”

Lowry attended the parade wearing a game-worn Damon Stoudamire pinstripe Raptors jersey. Stoudamire was the first player drafted by Toronto in 1995 and won rookie-of-the-year honors in 1996. Lowry and Stoudamire were teammates in Memphis from 2006 to 2008.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



loading

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
,
Path 27
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




loading

Conversation