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SportsFans in Canada and abroad mourn and reflect as Kawhi Leonard leaves the Raptors

01:25  08 july  2019
01:25  08 july  2019 Source:   msn.com

Scott Stinson: Kawhi Leonard, mysterious as ever, left Toronto in the most confounding of ways

Scott Stinson: Kawhi Leonard, mysterious as ever, left Toronto in the most confounding of ways Scott Stinson: Kawhi Leonard, mysterious as ever, left Toronto in the most confounding of ways

WATCH: Raptors fans react to Kawhi Leonard joining the Los Angeles Clippers. And of course, being the only NBA team in Canada , there are Raptors fans from Vancouver to Montreal that the The Raptors have grown in a way that reflects both Toronto and the NBA. Toronto’s fan base is

In the blockbuster trade that sent Kawhi Leonard to the Raptors in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl Even if he is healthy and motivated, the Raptors —still reeling from their disastrous Given the circumstances, Toronto fans can only be so excited about landing Leonard ; all the Spurs

Fans in Canada and abroad mourn and reflect as Kawhi Leonard leaves the Raptors© Provided by Canadian Press Enterprises Inc

TORONTO — Though his jersey may have said Toronto, Raptors fans across the country — and beyond — are in mourning after star player Kawhi Leonard opted to leave Canada's only NBA team.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP, who joined Toronto's team just a year ago when he was traded by the San Antonio Spurs, has reportedly signed with the LA Clippers after carrying the Raptors to the NBA Championship for the first time in franchise history last month.

William Om, a 27-year-old Raptors fan from Montreal, said it's painful to see an elite player come to Canada only to leave after such a brief period.

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+ As basketball fans in Toronto and across Canada await Kawhi Leonard ’s decision on his NBA future , one thing to consider is just how the Toronto Raptors handled the NBA star. Prior to his star turn in the NBA playoffs, the Raptors had Leonard sit out several games during the regular season

+ After a daring trade, a few close-calls and an NBA championship trophy it looks like Toronto is going to say goodbye to Kawhi Leonard who, according to multiple reports, is set on signing with the Los Angeles Clippers.

"It hurts everybody, because of course we want to keep the best players," he said in a phone interview.

But he said Leonard has won over his allegiance, regardless of where he takes his talents. In fact, Om said he's already ordered a Clippers jersey with Leonard's name on the back.

"What happened in Toronto, the way he played and everything, made me admire him a little more," he said. "No matter where he goes I'll support him as a Clipper."

But while some fans such as Om are grateful for Leonard's efforts — #ThankYouKawhi was trending on Twitter Saturday after news of his departure broke — others are not so generous.

Andrew Ostasz, 33, of Hamilton said he was "disgusted" with the way Leonard left the team.

"The Raptors brought him here to give him every chance to succeed ... basically turned him into the top three player in the league," Ostasz said.

‘Paparazzi’ Kawhi Leonard fans asked to back off

‘Paparazzi’ Kawhi Leonard fans asked to back off “Paparazzi” Raptors fans obsessed with keeping star player Kawhi Leonard in Toronto following the team’s historic NBA championship have a new way to lobby him to stay. A website — kawhiushouldstay.com — has been set up for fans to send “their heartfelt messages and sign petitions to Kawhi” without harassing him on the streets, Mayor John Tory announced Saturday. “The Toronto way says we do it quietly but in a determined way,” said Tory. “He should be given his privacy for now while he decides. … This a much better way for thousands upon thousands of people to ask him to stay.

Toronto was never the plan for Kawhi Leonard , and the Raptors knew it would take something extraordinary for him to consider staying beyond But those intervening 12 months meant everything and more to the Raptors organization and their fans , and his impact will linger after he's gone.

After weeks of anticipation and nervous fervor – and a helicopter chase through the city – NBA fans learned Saturday Kawhi Leonard is leaving the Toronto Raptors As of Saturday early afternoon, all top 10 trending Twitter searches in Canada were Raptors -related, and celebrities, NBA players and

That sentiment was echoed by Manuel Lutz, who would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to watch the Raptors play from his home in southern Germany.

"As I heard it, I was furious. How could he do that?" the 40-year-old fan said.

But Lutz said his heart has softened in the time since the news came out. He now sees that it's best to let Leonard go.

"There is a saying in Germany, 'do not keep travellers from travelling', and that's the way I see the position right now," he said.

As the acceptance begins to settle in, fans are turning their attention to all that Leonard brought to the Raptors in his short time in Toronto.

"I never thought this would happen in my lifetime. I never thought I'd see Toronto win a championship," said Corey West, 38, of Halifax.

"You can't really be mad because he gave you the one thing that we wanted," West said. "It shouldn't tarnish his legacy because he did the one thing no one else really could and that was to lead us to a championship — So I think he should be remembered fondly."

—With files from Olivia Blackmore in Halifax, Morgan Lowrie in Montreal and Brenna Owen in Vancouver.

Lidia Abraha, The Canadian Press

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