Toronto Raptors: Kawhi Leonard’s impact will remain even after he’s gone

Toronto Raptors, Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors, Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Kawhi Leonard is gone but his impact on the Toronto Raptors and the whole of Canada will remain. What did Kawhi Leonard change during his time in Toronto?

With a few days to digest the heartbreaking news of Kawhi Leonard’s decision to leave the Toronto Raptors and join the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency, it is time to both reflect on, and appreciate what he brought to the city of Toronto, and the country as a whole.

His impact goes beyond the physical. Past the Larry O’Brien trophy, the 59 Jurassic parks that extended across Canada and even popped up in the United States (Rockford, Illinois and a New York theatre).

Kawhi Leonard helped turn a fan base from simply being happy to be in the NBA finals, to one who believed they were a better team than a Golden State Warriors team missing Kevin Durant.

The impact of what he meant to the city and to Toronto and Canada basketball as a whole is difficult to quantify. The fanfare he received after helping propel the Toronto Raptors to winning their first ever NBA Championship provided a glimpse of the iconic rockstar-like status he achieved in the city of Toronto.

We all know about the Carter effect, now there will be a Kawhi effect. His influence extends beyond the Raptors fan base as he also helped the rest of the 2018-2019 roster grow and mature as players. He left a mark not only on our organization and basketball but the access Toronto youths will now have to enjoy basketball at their own leisure.