Kawhi Leonard choosing the LA Clippers in free agency came as a surprise to many, but anyone who heard his uncle talking during the playoffs might have seen it coming.
Toronto Star columnist Bruce Arthur shared his thoughts on Leonard leaving the Raptors in a column he published on Saturday. In his column, Arthur said that Dennis Robertson, Leonard’s uncle and manager, talked about the Clippers throughout the Raptors’ postseason run.
From Arthur’s column:
During the playoffs, and even the Finals, sources indicate Kawhi and his adviser and uncle Dennis Robertson were focused on the Clippers, even as Toronto’s championship run unfolded. During the playoffs Robertson was overheard more than once in the post-game back-hall melees talking about leaving; even after Game 4 in Philadelphia, where Kawhi made the first of two shots in the series to save the season, and during the Finals.
We even heard someone in the background of one of Kawhi’s sister’s Instagram videos saying Leonard was leaving too.
Leonard was always believed to be leaving Toronto after the season, though the Thunder’s ability to re-sign Paul George the year before and the Raptors’ championship may have given them some hope he would return.
Leonard may have left Toronto, but he gave them the ultimate parting gift: their first championship in franchise history.
Kendrick Perkins has made it no secret that he is not a Stephen Curry fan, and it is no surprise that he seems to be celebrating the fact that the two-time NBA MVP came up short of winning a third consecutive championship this year.
After the Golden State Warriors lost to the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Perkins ranted on the “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective Show” podcast about how Curry continues to get “pass after pass after pass” for poor performances in big games.
Kendrick Perkins went IN on Steph lmao. pic.twitter.com/v0bpSl0h5T
— Boogie Bousins (@bansky) June 14, 2019
“I feel like it’s unfair because any other superstar in the league don’t get as many passes as Steph Curry,” Perkins said. “Steph Curry gets pass after pass after pass, and he never steps up to the big plate. Think about this, the shots that Klay Thompson hit tonight, they wasn’t just easy shots. He had two or three people on him at times.”
Perkins went on to call Curry an “all-time great” and said he is not trying to take anything away from him, but that seems to be exactly what he is doing. Perk also tweeted during Game 4 that he expected everyone to make excuses for Curry and say Thompson’s return had a negative impact on him.
I guess Klay return is messing up Steph rhythm? That will be the excuse everyone gives him tomorrow!
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) June 8, 2019
Whether you want to label it an excuse or not, it does seem that people talk
a lot about nagging injuries every time Curry has a rough game in the postseason. He shot just 29.4 percent from three-point range over the last three games of the NBA Finals and 40.3 percent from the field overall. Curry was battling a finger injury that he admitted was an issue, but almost everyone is playing hurt to some degree in the playoffs.
All that said, it’s impossible for Perkins to convince anyone he is unbiased. His Cleveland Cavaliers teams lost to the Warriors twice in the NBA Finals, and he has a history of bad blood with Curry and some of his teammates. It makes sense that he pounced on the opportunity to bash Curry for a rough postseason.
The Toronto Raptors set record after record with TV ratings during their playoff run, which culminated in some truly staggering ratings as they closed out the championship in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night.
The game averaged 7.7 million viewers across all channels in Canada, making it the most-watched TV program in Canada in three years and the most-watched NBA game ever in Canada. 15.9 million Canadians were estimated to have tuned into some part of the game, which represents 44 percent of the country’s population and a record.
The ratings in Toronto and Hamilton were especially impressive. 82 percent of people watching TV in Toronto and Hamilton tuned into the Raptors, which is the highest non-Olympics audience in the market.
The Raptors just experienced their best season in franchise history. Their 58 regular season wins were their second-highest total ever. Unlike past years when they had to contend with LeBron James in the conference, James’ exodus to the Lakers in the Western Conference gave the Raptors a new hope. They took advantage of the opportunity by acquiring Kawhi Leonard and later Marc Gasol in a trade, really making a run for the title. It paid off, and now the popularity of the Raptors in Toronto and the country is at an all-time high.
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Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri was involved in an altercation with a security officer as he was trying to make his way onto the court at Oracle Arena following his team’s win over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, and prosecutors do not intend to sweep the incident under the rug.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to USA Today on Friday that it is pursuing a misdemeanor complaint against Ujiri for battery of a police officer. Ujiri is accused of shoving an officer twice and hitting him in the face after he was stopped from coming onto the court to celebrate Toronto’s championship at Oracle Arena.
A video captured by NBC Bay Area appeared to show the end of the altercation:
#BREAKING: Sheriff's deputy reportedly pushed and struck in the face by a man believed to be a Toronto Raptors executive after Game 6 of the #NBAFinals at Oracle Arena, @ACSOSheriffs says. https://t.co/fobdK9iWEq pic.twitter.com/a4X0IysY5Z
— Kristofer Noceda (@krisnoceda) June 14, 2019
Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, told USA Today that security staffers were told not to let anyone onto the court without proper credentials, and Ujiri did not have his showing.
“Mr. Ujiri didn’t produce them and pushed our deputy out of the way to gain access to the court. At that point our deputy tried to stop him and pushed him backward and then Mr. Ujiri came back with a second shove, a more significant push that, with his forward momentum, his arm struck our deputy in the face,” Kelly said. “At that point our deputy pushed Mr. Ujiri away again and some NBA security people and others intervened and he ended up walking onto the court.”
Kelly said the sheriff’s office decided to “take the high road” by not arresting Ujiri on national television, but it is clear they want Ujiri to be held accountable.
Ujiri, 48, joined the Raptors in 2013 and helped build them into a contender. His decisions to gamble by acquiring Kawhi Leonard, firing Dwane Casey, and adding Marc Gasol at the trade deadline culminated with the team winning the championship. He reportedly is being pursued by other teams, but he gave a strong hint on Thursday that he is not planning to go anywhere.
Toronto Raptors fans have been waiting a long time for their team to bring home a championship, and the way the city celebrated following Thursday night’s win helped put the popularity of the Raptors into perspective.
All major cities throw massive victory parades when their team wins a title, and they’re usually attended by hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of fans. But after the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the city of Toronto could not wait to get the party started. Check out these awesome videos:
— Greg Vanier (@GregVanier) June 14, 2019
— Dan Hodgson (@darkroom) June 14, 2019
While they had one really embarrassing moment during the playoffs, the way Raptors fans supported their team was incredible. It’s usually an exaggeration to say an entire city got behind a team, but it looks like that is exactly what happened in Toronto.
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Draymond Green has a message for anyone doubting the Golden State Warriors.
Green was asked after the Warriors lost Game 6 of the NBA Finals to lose the series how he thinks the team will do next season. That’s when he broke out the underdog speech.
“I think everybody thinks this is kind of the end of us. That’s just not smart. We’re not done yet,” Green said. “We lost this year. Clearly it just wasn’t our year. But, that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes.
“Yeah, I hear a lot of that news — ‘it’s the end of a run and all that jazz.’ I don’t see that happening though; we’ll be back.”
Green is used to being doubted, so maybe this is the motivation he needs.
But the questions surrounding the Warriors are legitimate. Kevin Durant has a ruptured Achilles that will likely keep him out for the season, and nobody knows if he will even return to to Golden State. On top of that, Klay Thompson ended the season with a knee injury.
The Warriors should not be doubted, but their future heading into next season does seem murky.
The Toronto Raptors weren’t even a half-hour into celebrating their championship and already were faced with distractions and questions about their future.
The Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night to capture their first title in franchise history. The moment after the team won, ESPN dropped a story about the Wizards pursuing Masai Ujiri. As if that weren’t enough, NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was asked by ESPN’s Doris Burke about his free agency plans.
"This is what I play basketball for."
Kawhi Leonard claimed his 2nd NBA Finals MVP. pic.twitter.com/GWJATYbZJs
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 14, 2019
“I’m about to enjoy this with my teammates and coaches, and I’ll think about that later,” Leonard said in response.
Leonard’s future has been a subject of NBA headlines for over a year. He forced his way out of San Antonio and was acquired by Toronto despite saying he would only be a year-long rental. Toronto gambled anyway and now will put things to the ultimate test: will Leonard actually leave after winning a championship there? If he does, he’s earned the right to, and at least he delivered in the biggest way possible for them.