Watching the L.A. Clippers completely capitulate against the Denver Nuggets (shoutout Canada’s very own Jamal Murray!) left us with the logical conclusion many believed right from the very beginning: Kawhi Leonard walked away from a dynasty in Toronto.
Yes, family was a big reason why he chose to leave the Raptors immediately after winning a championship and Finals MVP and it will always be a perfectly valid reason, but with the way things played out, one can’t help but wonder if Leonard realizes he took what he had in Toronto for granted.
The Clippers had chemistry issues all season, Paul George struggled to be the Robin to Leonard’s Batman, and Doc Rivers made his share of questionable decisions that contributed to their playoff exit and ultimately cost him his job. Meanwhile in Toronto, Leonard had great veteran leaders in Lowry, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and Danny Green, while even the younger players Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and Norman Powell showed their toughness when needed most. Siakam was clearly capable of the Robin role and in Nick Nurse, Leonard had a coach who was incredibly creative and consistently problem solved effectively enough to win a championship despite trailing in each of the first three series they played.
Leonard threw all of that away, and now his brief reign at the top of the NBA heap is over. All season, people worried about what the Raptors would be without him, not stopping once to think what he’d be without them.