Kawhi Leonard is set to make his first appearance in Toronto since signing with the Los Angeles Clippers as a free agent during the offseason, and even after leading the Raptors to their first-ever championship last season, he expects to be booed at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday night.
"I mean, there will be cheers," Leonard told reporters. "But definitely, I think, more boos because they want to win the game. They not gonna be cheering for a player that's on the opposing team. They still rooting for the Raptors."
Leonard spent just one season in Toronto, but it wound up being a memorable one. He averaged 25.1 points per game during the regular season before taking his game to the next level during the postseason.
The three-time All-Star averaged 30.5 points per game on 49 percent shooting, including 37.9 percent from three-point range, in 24 playoff games, hitting arguably the most memorable shot in franchise history. He earned 2019 NBA Finals MVP honors by averaging 28.5 points during a six-game triumph over the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Toronto acquired Leonard in July 2018, knowing that he could be one-and-done. Leonard revealed Wednesday that he gave the Raptors a "big consideration" before making a decision in free agency, but ultimately, he opted to head home to L.A.
It does not appear as though the Toronto organization holds any hard feelings toward the player who delivered Canada's first Larry O'Brien Trophy. On Tuesday, the Raptors tweeted out a tribute video to welcome the Clippers star back to the Six:
Leonard is averaging 25.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists during his first season in L.A., leading the Clippers to an 18-7 record and the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference. The Raptors (16-7), meanwhile, sit in fifth place in the East.