The always stoic Kawhi Leonard hugged old teammates and ex-coaches, smiled with all his friends and raised his arms to the sky as a way of acknowledging the love from about 20,000 fans.
The emotion on the night that Leonard got his ring commemorating the Raptors’ 2019 NBA championship was real and genuine.
After a nearly two-minute long video detailing his exploits in his one season in Toronto, Leonard got his ring from former teammate Kyle Lowry after a long series of hugs and handshakes with teammates, coaches, senior management and part owner Larry Tanenbaum before he and the Los Angeles Clippers played the Raptors on Wednesday.
The love-in for Leonard began about 20 minutes before tipoff to the game when he got a small standing ovation just running onto the court for the pre-game warmup and a much louder cheer when he was shown on the scoreboard’s video screen as he ran layups.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he was going to soak in the emotional event.
“It’s always great to see guys get a ring, especially when they’re on your team now,” he said before the game.
“This is a different one, though. It’s a really cool one because he was the leader of the group, coming back to get it in front of a crowd. I’ve never experienced it like this.”
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