That all changed when Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard rattled in an impossible buzzer-beater to give Toronto a 92-90 home win over the immensely talented Sixers.
🚨 THE SHOT. THE BOUNCE. THE WIN. 🚨
— NBA (@NBA) May 13, 2019
It was, historic implications aside, easily the most exciting moment of this year’s NBA playoffs thus far.
Leonard, who has a player option to become a free agent after this season, helped propel the Raptors to just their second Eastern Conference Finals in franchise history with his shot.
Given the talent of Philadelphia, Toronto’s tortured postseason history and Leonard’s up-and-down year where he missed 22 games primarily for “rest,” the 27-year-old forward’s miracle shot had some extra significance behind it.
But whereas some people take all the personal glory for themselves, Leonard took a decidedly different approach when asked about his heroics in the immediate aftermath of Game 7.
“You’re leading this team to the Eastern Conference Finals,” TNT’s Rosalyn Gold-Onwude said to Leonard in the postgame interview. “But if you think about your journey, last season you only played nine games, you joined a new team with a new head coach in a new country. Did you have any doubts?”
“Yeah. Last year was a very down year for me,” he said, referring to his acrimonious divorce from the San Antonio Spurs. “I was going through a lot.”
After a quick congrats from teammate Pascal Siakam, Leonard shifted the focus and expressed his gratitude to God.
“God is good. You know, I prayed every day, ended up getting healthy, and now I’m able to play basketball,” he said. “You can just see what he does for you.”
Leonard, who is fairly quiet and unassuming off the court, apparently has no problem professing his faith. He literally wears it on his sleeve.
On his right shoulder, Leonard has a tattoo of the cross with the words “Fear God, not them” written around it.
After a wave of NBA players who seemed far more obsessed with their personal brands than anything else, it’s been a pleasant surprise to see various NBA stars thanking God and sharing their faith on national television.
Leonard now has to get ready to face the Milwaukee Bucks, who had the most wins in the NBA this season, in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Game 1 will tip off in Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.