Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard showered with ‘MVP’ chants in Toronto return

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Kawhi Leonard’s night began with the entire Scotiabank Arena crowd on its feet and showering him with “MVP” chants.

And his triumphant return to Toronto ended with a 112-92 LA Clippers win over the Raptors, with the NBA Finals MVP having one final championship moment here as he shared the unique message he had engraved inside his new championship ring.

“I have a logo in there,” Leonard said when asked at the end of his news conference about the engraved message. “And [the ring is sized for] my middle finger, so it reminds me ‘put it on my middle finger.’ So I have like a ‘FU’ symbol in there.”

While he didn’t show much emotion on this historic night for Toronto, Leonard clearly felt the love from a fan base that came to thank him.

Leonard delivered the type of well-rounded performance the Toronto fans saw plenty of last season as he hit 8 of 14 shots and finished with 23 points, six assists and five rebounds. He admitted on the morning of his return that he gave serious consideration to coming back before opting to return to his Southern California roots and sign with the Clippers as a free agent.

But he had flashbacks of last season as he rode to the arena for shootaround, and many memories were shown to him on the big screen before tipoff as Raptors fans got to celebrate the historic season with the star who delivered Canada its first NBA championship.2

After public address announcer Herbie Kuhn introduced the four other Clippers players in the starting lineup, the Raptors showed a nearly two-minute video tribute revisiting highlights from Leonard’s title run. At one point, the lights went out with just the play-by-play heard of Leonard’s winning shot in Game 7 against Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference semifinals, before video showing the reaction of Leonard nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“It’s like Maximus coming back as the gladiator,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before the game. “He was the champion and just did everything honorably and the right way. I was joking earlier that would be a great intro.”

During the time that the arena went dark, the Raptors retraced Leonard’s steps toward that corner shot with footprints lighting up on the court while the play-by-play was being played.

Leonard then was introduced to a standing ovation as he was greeted at halfcourt by his former Raptors teammates and coaches as fans chanted “MVP.”

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry was the last former teammate waiting to greet Leonard, with his championship ring in tow. Just before hugging Lowry, Leonard shared one more personal moment with his good friend by rubbing his eyes just before accepting his ring, which has the most diamonds of any championship ring — more than 640.

“I was joking with him and just showing him that the ring was nice and like it was shining too bright,” Leonard said. “And we were laughing.”

“Memories probably just ran through our heads,” Leonard added.

Leonard then acknowledged the fans, raising his hands in the air. Kuhn then said over the microphone, “Congratulations, Kawhi! The North thanks you.”