News

Raptors share recollections of Leonard, Inexperienced forward of LA reunions


Columnist image

It’s at all times enjoyable for gamers to face a former teammate – attending to meet up with an outdated buddy earlier than the sport, reminisce, after which go head-to-head with somebody you as soon as battled in observe and now share some memorable moments with.

That bond and people reunions are much more significant when a type of recollections is successful a championship collectively.

The returning members of final yr’s title-winning Toronto Raptors crew will expertise that feeling after they go to Los Angeles this weekend. In a a lot anticipated back-to-back with the Lakers and Clippers on Sunday and Monday, respectively, the Raptors will cross paths with Danny Inexperienced and Kawhi Leonard for the primary time since they helped lead Toronto to its first NBA championship after which left for L.A. in free company over the summer time.

Acquired collectively within the commerce that despatched DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio the earlier low season, each gamers left an enduring legacy in Toronto regardless of being Raptors for only a single season.

As dependable as they arrive, Inexperienced appeared in a team-high 80 video games final season and re-established himself as one of many league’s greatest three-point shooters and perimeter defenders.

Leonard adopted up a wonderful common season with one of the crucial dominant and iconic playoff runs the NBA has ever seen, highlighted by his historic buzzer-beating shot within the series-clinching Sport 7 towards Philadelphia, en path to his second profession Finals MVP award.

However Inexperienced and Leonard didn’t simply make an affect on the franchise and its followers, town and the nation; additionally they touched the careers and lives of every particular person they shared the expertise with.

Clearly, every of these gamers had been upset when Leonard determined to go house and signal with the Clippers over the summer time, with Inexperienced agreeing to affix the Lakers shortly after, however the relationships that had been constructed over the previous 12 months will final a lifetime.

“That’s gonna be special, man. Always, man,” Serge Ibaka instructed TSN earlier this week. “With the guys you won a championship with, that’s gonna be special, very special. When you look back and see all the pictures, that’s something special. It takes a lot for a team to win a championship. It takes a lot of connections, ups and downs, trust. That’s a lot. It doesn’t matter if it’s only one year.”

“We won a championship [together], so yeah,” mentioned Kyle Lowry. “It’s always going to be special. I have a special relationship with most of my [former] teammates. I still talk to a lot of the guys. It’s a brotherhood and we bond but we’ll always have that memory of 2019 NBA champions, Kawhi and Danny.”

Forward of the upcoming back-to-back in L.A., a number of the Raptors’ returning gamers had been requested to share their recollections of what it was wish to play with Leonard and Inexperienced.


KYLE LOWRY

What is going to he bear in mind about Leonard?

“How good of a guy he really is. How awesome of a person he is. How funny he is. How he literally taught me and our team how to stay level-headed and even-keeled.”

What is going to he bear in mind about Inexperienced?

“I think Danny was excited to have an opportunity to be here and be a leader again. He learned a lot coming from [Gregg] Popovich in San Antonio, and he took advantage of the opportunity to show what he could do. And he’s one of the best shooters there is.”

Embedded Image

PASCAL SIAKAM

What is going to he bear in mind about Leonard?

“I think just the way he is – his demeanour and how he approaches the game. That’s something that’s always going to stay with me. I’m an emotional player – when things are not going my way I tend to get emotional a little bit. And just seeing him and how he never got that way and always had the same mentality, that killer mentality, steady game and no real emotions like that, especially when it’s going bad, that’s something I took from him.”

What is going to he bear in mind about Inexperienced?

“He was just a great teammate, man, a dude that’s always about team and just a genuine person and a leader. Having him was definitely important for us as a guy that had won it before. Just his experience was something we all gained from him.”

Embedded Image

SERGE IBAKA

What is going to he bear in mind about Leonard?

“Just his personality. It’s kinda funny, he’s got a different personality than everybody [else] but at the same time he’s a cool guy. Even just the way we clicked. It was so easy. The first time he came to the team it was so easy just to connect. I think we just had a respect for each other. Playing against each other and then becoming teammates, we just had a respect and understanding for each other.”

What is going to he bear in mind about Inexperienced?

“Danny is a happy guy. He’s just happy no matter what. With everybody, he’s just happy every day. He comes in the morning and he’s a happy guy. Bad game, good game, win or loss, he’s gonna have the same positive energy. That’s what makes Danny very special.”

Embedded Image

FRED VANVLEET

What is going to he bear in mind about Leonard?

“It was my first experience playing with a bona fide superstar, and whatever comes with that. Walking into the gym every day having the best player in the gym on your team is a whole different thing that you don’t really know until you play with somebody like that. It was a whole lot of fun. There were some challenges. There were a lot of ups and downs over the year. But overall, I look back at playing with those two guys as a great experience for our team, obviously winning a championship, but personally, for my career, to have that knowledge going forward.”

“It’s the ultimate bailout on any given night, having a guy like that. It hurt us sometimes, because we weren’t ready to play sometimes, or we took teams lightly because we knew that we could just give it to Kawhi and get out of the way, but you need that in the playoffs. He was our ace in the hole whenever we needed that.”

“Obviously he didn’t talk a lot. I think it took him a long time to warm up to us, for him to open up and to trust us. On the court – off the court, he was great – but on the court, I think we saw over the course of the year him open up and trust us, the entire team. I think him and Kyle had a good chemistry pretty early. And you could see it gradually happen for the entire team.”

What is going to he bear in mind about Inexperienced?

“That he was so experienced and had been around for so long, but he walks around like a young guy. You wouldn’t really know it other than it taking him two hours to get loose for practice and games – you wouldn’t know that he was in his 30s. He was great. He was very energetic, upbeat. He talked a lot, but really just helped guys and gave as much knowledge as you asked for. From the day I met him, I was asking him questions about everything, from plays to off the court stuff and everything in between. He was good. He was very helpful for a lot of guys on the team.”

Embedded Image

MARC GASOL

What is going to he bear in mind about Leonard?

“He speaks when needed. That to me is a great trait of a leader. When the team needs it, he has a voice, a voice that everyone listens to. He speaks the right stuff, cares about the right stuff. It was awesome.”

What is going to he bear in mind about Inexperienced?

“Two different styles. Danny was more talkative, all of the time, but also about the right stuff. Danny was different than Kawhi, but always team-oriented, things that he saw that we could do better, always positive. I like guys that are always thinking about how we could get better as a team and what things can we do defensively or what’s hurting us, but always have that positive mindset and approach that never brings people down, but is always trying to bring them up.”

Embedded Image

OG ANUNOBY

What is going to he bear in mind about Leonard?

He’s a enjoyable man. He’s cool. He’s man. That’s actually it, apart from the basketball stuff.”

What is going to he bear in mind about Inexperienced?

“Same thing. He’s fun. He’s funny.”

Embedded Image

NORMAN POWELL

What is going to he bear in mind about Leonard?

I don’t know, possibly simply his day by day preparation and the way he prepares himself, how he’s deliberate in his method, educated in what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. That’s largely what stands out to me – how devoted he’s to caring for himself and ensuring the whole lot about what he’s doing is correct for him.”

What is going to he bear in mind about Inexperienced?

I imply he was superb. He was a man that actually saved everyone collectively. If you undergo the season everyone has ups and downs. You attempt to determine one of the simplest ways to win video games. However he saved everyone collectively together with his veteran presence within the locker room after which outdoors the court docket he at all times introduced guys collectively. If we had been doing one thing away from the crew he made positive to incorporate everyone. I believe he simply saved the group tied in and collectively – on and off the court docket.”

Embedded Image

MALCOLM MILLER

What is going to he bear in mind about Leonard?

“Definitely his professionalism and the way he was very efficient about his work. He got in early, got his work done, got his rehab done, got his shots in, got a practice, got extra rehab, recovery at the end. Just that type of professionalism and work ethic really stuck out to me.”

What is going to he bear in mind about Inexperienced?

“Danny was just a reliable source for the team – being able to knock down shots, guard the best player on the team, and just somebody to be dependable on the team. He’s another shooter, so I looked at his shot and everything on the court. And the actions and the business he has off the court are also pretty inspiring. Danny was just an all-around good glue guy. He’s a jack-of-all-trades.”



Source link

Josh Lewenberg

Comment here