Kawhi Leonard is pretty good at basketball, so much so that three franchises are doing everything they can to convince him to play for them. The last few days have reportedly involved the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers meeting with the reigning NBA Finals MVP about leaving Toronto and joining them in free agency. On Wednesday, it was Toronto’s turn to pitch him on sticking around, and good lord, did people lose their minds.
Reports indicated that Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment had its private plane go from Los Angeles to Toronto on Wednesday afternoon. Since MLSE owns the Raptors, you can probably put two and two together and come to the conclusion that Leonard was on the flight, but no one really knows for sure.
Now, as that last clip shows, there was a dang helicopter with a dang camera at the dang airport waiting to see who got off the dang plane. That’s really weird! Leonard is, quite possibly, the last basketball player on earth who would enjoy this sort of thing, the kind of hyper-recluse superstar who has to actively work to stay out of the spotlight in today’s media environment where everyone can become a reporter if they have a working cell phone camera and a social media account. Having a helicopter fly over a plane at the airport that he might be in doesn’t exactly help the cause.
But this whole “megastar athlete who brought us a title is considering staying in Canada” thing is a new one to Toronto, and so when the person believed to be Leonard left the airport, a local news station busted out its car chase protocol to follow his presumed SUV.
A crowd also formed outside of the place that it is presumed Leonard will meet with Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri.
Two things here: 1. We still do not know for certain that Leonard is on this plane, even if we can make an educated guess, 2. I really cannot hammer home enough how weird it is that this is all happening for Kawhi Leonard, who it is speculated put the Clippers and Lakers through a type of loyalty test to make sure nothing leaked from their meetings. Now, of course, this is not to say the Raptors encouraged this — someone absolutely went full college football fan and looked at public flight logs, which led to the freak out — but there is nothing we know about Leonard that indicates this would help the cause.
Perhaps it will, or perhaps it won’t, or perhaps he already made up his mind in any of the three directions and this won’t impact this. But regardless, this is perhaps the weirdest twist in what has been quite the year for Leonard up north.