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Raptors Players Share Their Best Memories Of Kawhi Leonard

(viα Bleacher Report)

(viα Bleacher Report)

Ahead of their L.A. reunion, Raptors players shared their favorite memory of their former teammate Kawhi Leonard.

(via TSN)

KYLE LOWRY

“How good of a guy he really is. How awesome of a person he is. How funny he is. How he literally taught me and our team how to stay level-headed and even-keeled.”

PASCAL SIAKAM

“I think just the way he is – his demeanor and how he approaches the game. That’s something that’s always going to stay with me. I’m an emotional player – when things are not going my way I tend to get emotional a little bit. And just seeing him and how he never got that way and always had the same mentality, that killer mentality, steady game and no real emotions like that, especially when it’s going bad, that’s something I took from him.”

SERGE IBAKA

“Just his personality. It’s kinda funny, he’s got a different personality than everybody [else] but at the same time, he’s a cool guy. Even just the way we clicked. It was so easy. The first time he came to the team it was so easy just to connect. I think we just had a respect for each other. Playing against each other and then becoming teammates, we just had a respect and understanding for each other.”

FRED VANVLEET

“It was my first experience playing with a bona fide superstar, and whatever comes with that. Walking into the gym every day having the best player in the gym on your team is a whole different thing that you don’t really know until you play with somebody like that. It was a whole lot of fun. There were some challenges. There were a lot of ups and downs over the year. But overall, I look back at playing with those two guys as a great experience for our team, obviously winning a championship, but personally, for my career, to have that knowledge going forward.”

“It’s the ultimate bailout on any given night, having a guy like that. It hurt us sometimes because we weren’t ready to play sometimes, or we took teams lightly because we knew that we could just give it to Kawhi and get out of the way, but you need that in the playoffs. He was our ace in the hole whenever we needed that.”

“Obviously he didn’t talk a lot. I think it took him a long time to warm up to us, for him to open up and to trust us. On the court – off the court, he was great – but on the court, I think we saw over the course of the year him open up and trust us, the entire team. I think he and Kyle had good chemistry pretty early. And you could see it gradually happen for the entire team.”

MARC GASOL

“He speaks when needed. That to me is a great trait of a leader. When the team needs it, he has a voice, a voice that everyone listens to. He speaks the right stuff, cares about the right stuff. It was awesome.”

OG ANUNOBY

“He’s a fun guy. He’s cool. He’s a good guy. That’s really it, besides the basketball stuff.”

Kawhi only played for a season in Toronto before signing with the L.A. Clippers as a free agent in the summer of 2019. Though his time was short, he clearly made quite an impression on those around him.

With the Raptors, he was able to bring them something nobody else could -- a Championship. So, even as rivals, there is little doubt that the team recognizes and appreciates Leonard's tenure with the Raptors.