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Dublin: 13 °C Monday 10 August, 2020

Kawhi Leonard describes Toronto's season and fans as 'special'

Kahwi Leonard says he is feeling the love in Toronto, with the Raptors playing in their maiden NBA Finals.

Raptors star Kawhi Leonard.
Raptors star Kawhi Leonard.

KAWHI LEONARD HAS expressed his gratitude to the “special” Toronto fans as the Raptors bid to win a first NBA title.

Leonard has made a huge impact in his first season with the Raptors after leaving the San Antonio Spurs.

The forward is feeling the love as Nick Nurse’s side prepare to try and take a 2-0 lead in the Finals against defending champions the Golden State Warriors. 

“I appreciate them for their support,” Leonard said ahead of Game 2 on Sunday. ”Coming in, I wanted to be able to contribute to the team and be able to get them to this point, and we’re doing it so far.

“I just feel like I did something special for them, just this group, just being able to be the first team to get to the NBA Finals for Toronto. That’s how fans are.

“Everyone out here they love, not just me. If you walk through the city or if I’m with one of my team-mates, they show them a lot of love as well. It’s a great support group out here with the fans and with everyone in Toronto.”

Leonard requested to be traded by the Spurs last offseason after the two parties had a disagreement over the management of a quad injury he suffered.

The 2014 Finals MVP’s relocation was initially seen as a risky one-year rental, as he was rumoured to be interested in moving to his home state of California long term.

However, Leonard thinks this season’s journey might be his most exciting one since being drafted in 2011.

“Pretty much other than my first year, I just pretty much started having fun,” Leonard said. 

“When you come in as a rookie, you’re trying to stay in the league and you don’t know what the league is about or if you’re going to stick. After that, I pretty much have been trying to enjoy the game.

“Obviously, it’s a lot more fun when you’re getting plays called for you and you’re able to live your childhood dream in being able to shoot the ball 20 times a game.

“The offense is coming toward you rather than just being out there doing one job. Because when you first come in as a rookie, unless you’re like a top-10 player, you’re really not going to touch the floor a whole lot or get the offense run through you.”

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