Toronto Raptors: Why Kawhi and Kyle should’ve skipped the All-Star game

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors had two of the league’s finest playing this past weekend in the All-Star Game. Instead, they should have been relaxing on a beach.

It is an honour that only a handful of players will ever get the opportunity to ever enjoy. The NBA all-star game is where the best players in the world put on an exhibition. The Toronto Raptors were represented in that game by Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry.

There are a number of festivities for everyone that made it down for All-Star weekend. The players had the opportunity to take in the fun while hobnobbing with celebrities and the rest of the league’s elite. Being a part of the big game is an experience that those who are not selected, covet. Most players will compete for their entire career without ever getting any All-Star consideration. That makes getting to this game even more impressive.

Despite the fact that players spend an inordinate amount of time to perfect their game so that they can live out their childhood dreams of playing in this matchup, Leonard and Lowry should have sat this one out.

In the all-star game itself, the two Raptors looked great. They both played defense, an art often lost in these bouts. The pair also showed off their range, each hitting from beyond the arc. At one point, Leonard and Curry even went shot for shot from outside. Leonard finished with 19 points, two assists, five rebounds, a block, and five three-pointers in 19 minutes. Lowry had three points, three assists, and three rebounds in 13 minutes.

Their talents and desire are not in question. They clearly wanted to hoop. The issue with their participation in the event is that both these players have struggled with injuries this season.

The Claw only got into nine games last season. He expressed his disappointment with the way his health was treated by the San Antonio Spurs. The Raptors medical staff have been very cautious with Leonard. He has not played in a single back-to-back game this season and has missed other matchups for the purpose of rest.

Lowry has also been plagued with injuries. This season he has had an ailing back. This has kept him out of games at various points throughout the season. The Raptors have played  59 games so far on the campaign. Lowry has been a part of 47 of them. Leonard has only suited up for 43.

Considering that the Raptors are chasing first-place in the Eastern Conference and a long run in the playoffs, the team is going to need its stars at 100%.

The Raps schedule would have allowed the two to give their bodies some much-needed rest if they had chosen to opt out of taking the trip to Charlotte. If they had, they would have each received over a week off. Lowry could have had eight days of rest and Leonard, who skipped the team’s last game against the Washington Wizards, could have had ten.

Playing in the all-star game was not a unique experience for Leonard and Lowry this year. This was Leonard’s third one and Lowry’s fifth. If they each chose to prioritize their own health and wellbeing, they still would have had multiple appearances at previous iterations of the event.

Even if they didn’t participate in the game itself, they would remain recognized as all-stars. Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers was unable to play due to injury, but his résumé will reflect that he made the team.

Kudos to the Raptors organization who allowed their most valuable players to hoop over the weekend. Ownership and team executives alike would have preferred that their talent skip this one, but they put no roadblocks in front of pair. They also refrained from speaking out in any way other than to praise their players.

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While it is admirable to see two men represent their city and team, playing the game that they love, it is only natural to question the thinking behind the decision-making. Both men earned the right to participate and can make their own choices