Title:It’s early, but Raptors’ relationship with Kawhi Leonard is off to a mutually beneficial beginning
Date: November 9, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, I wrote about the Raptors’ relationship with Kawhi Leonard early on after a week of observing it out west.
Not even the franchise’s first-ever sweep of a four-game west coast road tripcould protect any Toronto Raptor from the post-game ribbing that has come to define the team’s camaraderie over the last few seasons.
Good games are met with accusations of a player becoming too ‘big time’, outsized performances are downplayed as mediocre and credit is usually doled out after a side of tongue-in-cheek jeering. Just earlier that day at shootaround, Serge Ibaka had left Kyle Lowry’s side to avoid catching fire, only for Lowry to bellow that the red-hot Ibaka “stinks.”
It was Fred VanVleet’s turn to lob shots after the Raptors wrapped up their road trip with a win in Sacramento. VanVleet is no stranger to being on the other end of these barbs, and with one of the sharper wits on the team, he’s comfortable playing the aggressor. His target on this occasion was Kawhi Leonard, who had just returned from a two-game absence to score 25 points in 31 minutes on a night where his performance was uneven by his lofty standards and excellent by anyone else’s.