It is always a special moment whenever Kawhi Leonard visits Toronto to take on the Raptors.
Leonard is a Raptors legend for his efforts during Toronto’s iconic 2019 NBA Championship run.
He was playing like an MVP candidate that season and had one of the greatest individual playoff runs of all-time leading the Raptors to championship glory.
That title win for the Raptors feels like a lifetime ago, but it was only 5 years ago when the Raptors were on top of the basketball world.
Five years later and the Raptors look a lot different. The team has completely overhauled their roster and they have officially entered a rebuild. Chris Boucher is the last remaining player from the Raptors 2018-19 championship roster.
The former Raptor Leonard, admitted it is strange to see how much the roster has changed in five years according to Daily Hive’s Colton Pankiw:
“Yeah, it is. But, it’s a new NBA. Coaches and players don’t really stay with one organization, and you see it now.”
Leonard always gets a warm reception every time he visits Toronto now and that was once again the case on Friday night before the Raptors took on the Clippers at Scotiabank Arena:
Great applause for former Raptor Kawhi Leonard during starting lineup introductions at Scotiabank Arena. pic.twitter.com/wacfRlResB
— Toronto Star Sports (@StarSports) January 27, 2024
Leonard talked about the warm reception he received from the Raptors faithful after the Clippers victory:
“Everybody knows what I’ve done here and how special that year was, and they’re thankful for it. Every time I come, I get good praise.”
New era for Raptors
Within the last 7 months, Toronto lost Fred VanVleet in free agency and then traded away both O.G. Anunoby and Pascal Siakam.
While it is good to reflect on the past, it is time to flip the page and focus on the Raptors future.
There will be growing pains but for the first time in a while the Raptors have some direction and they are fully embracing it.
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