After helping the Toronto Raptors win their first title in franchise history, Kawhi Leonard did something we've never seen before.
In choosing to leave the Raptors for the LA Clippers in free agency, Leonard became the first player in NBA history to join a new team after winning Finals MVP. Michael Jordan left the Chicago Bulls twice, the only difference is he decided to retire both times, not sign with another team.
Ahead of his return to Toronto, Leonard was asked how much he considered re-signing with the Raptors in the offseason. His response?
"I gave a big consideration. I took my time like I did. I didn't hurry up and make a quick decision. I talked to the front office in detail. It was a hard choice to make."
Kawhi Leonard said it was a tough decision to leave the Raptors and he gave returning "a big consideration." pic.twitter.com/6BrGynIuXM- Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 11, 2019
With Thursday being his first game in Toronto as a member of the Clippers, Leonard will receive his championship ring in a pregame ceremony. The Raptors tweeted that the doors at the Scotiabank Arena open at 5:30 p.m. local time and that fans should be in their seats by 6:45 p.m., 15 minutes before the game is scheduled to begin.
Leonard is expecting to receive some cheers from Raptors fans, but he also believes he will receive some boos.
"I mean, there will be some cheers, but definitely I think more boos because they want to win the game," he said. They're not going to be cheering for a player that's on an opposing team. They're still rooting for the Raptors."
It's hard to believe that Leonard will actually receive boos. Even though he chose to leave the franchise after only one season, he led them to a championship with a historic postseason, in which he averaged 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.
Leonard had a number of signature moments along the way, from his game-winner against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 to taking on the responsibility of guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo in the Eastern Conference Finals, a move that completely changed the series.
Raptors fans will likely be appreciative of everything Leonard did during his one season in Toronto, not resent him for leaving in the way he did.
The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the NBA or its clubs.