In his first season, Leonard’s made the most memorable moment in Raptors history.
The Toronto Raptors’ blockbuster summer trade for a one-year rental of Kawhi Leonard was validated on Sunday night as the team’s leading scorer roamed the arc, stepped to the side and launched a prayer ahead of the buzzer and over Joel Embiid to beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 92-90. The Raptors are headed to the conference finals to play against Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks.
Here was the shot, which was so dramatic it almost felt scripted. The ball hit the front end of the rim, and danced along the edges until finally falling through the net in the longest fractions of a second Canadian basketball’s ever seen.
Any leftover grumbles over Toronto parting ways with its former star, DeMar DeRozan, have to be put to rest now that Leonard not only knocked down one of the biggest shots in franchise history, but carried his team along the way. He scored 41 points on 16-of-39 shooting with eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. He was the clear source of offense all game, up and through the final seconds. The rest of Toronto’s roster deferred to him in the clutch.
This is why Kawhi Leonard is one of the best players on the planet, and why choosing talent over culture is wise, although it’s painful. This memorable moment was not just a win in the short-term, it’s one in the long-term, too.
Look at this emotion!
Could this just be the beginning for the Raptors’ superstar, Kawhi?