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 – Kyle Lowry (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Kawhi Effect

The effect of what Kawhi helped bring to the Raptors, Toronto, and the country of Canada will be felt for generations. The Vince Carter effect helped shape multiple generations of basketball in the city and country, the Kawhi effect will do that and more. The effect extends beyond children who are old enough to remember this.

It also affects both the born and soon to be born children of parents who found themselves enthralled with this championship run. This is the same thing that happened via the Carter Effect. Andrew Wiggins is old enough, but players like RJ Barrett, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander may not even be old enough to have been cognitively influenced by Carter’s presence on the Raptors.

The run brought millions of Canadians together, many who never watched a complete basketball game in their lives before this spring. Already the most popular sport among urban youth in Toronto, the passion for Toronto basketball and basketball as a whole has extended to other demographics. Drive anywhere in the city, or even the suburbs today and you will see children of all melanin concentrations shooting hoops.

There are now a record number of Canadians in the NBA at 22. Four were drafted this season in the first round, with two more being added in the second round. Demographics and proximity to the city dictate that Ontario and more specifically the Greater Toronto Area will continue to produce the majority of our basketball stars, but as Grizzlies first round pick Brandon Clarke proved once again, top prospects can come from other provinces as well.

In fact, the percentages should see a slight shift in the next generation. The demographics will remain the same, but more and more kids from other provinces have fallen in love with basketball as a result of Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors historic championship capture.

"“You think about the Vince Carter effect. And then you think about the Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan effect. And now you think about the Kawhi effect, you know, so, whether it’s my son that’s three, or a lot of the kids now, this is what they are going to remember, this is how they are going to start playing basketball, and 20 years from now, it’s going to be even bigger. And I think this is what this team embodies, that’s what this team, I think, shouts to the whole world.”"

Masai Ujiri at his end of season presser (47:45 mark)