Most people thought Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors were a weird fit when it happened, but eventually, it led to the most considerable success in Raptors franchise history. In that 2018-19 season, nobody believed in Leonard and the Raptors, especially after seeing Kawhi struggle during the regular season. In addition to that, he was battling with injuries, but he stepped up in crucial moments, and he led the Raptors to the NBA title.
Suppose it wasn't for the hard work that he did in the training camp before the start of the season; who knows if Kawhi would end up with a title in Canada. Phil Handy, currently working as a development coach with the Los Angeles Lakers, worked with Kawhi on the Raptors, and he gave an insight into Kawhi's work ethic and mentality.
"And his thing that impressed me the most was when I first met Kawhi, he just said, 'Look, Coach, I'm very straightforward. I'm very honest. I'm all about the work. If I'm not doing something, you tell me -- because I'm going to tell you if you're not doing something. I like the gym to be quiet; I don't like the people, I don't like noise, I just want to get my work in.' When he said that to me, I'm like, 'Let's go. That's right up my alley!' He's just a student of the game -- a real student of the game, and he wants to be great. That's all we would ever talk about. When I first got there, he was like, 'We need to link up with Kob, I want to link up with Kob. When can we link up with him?' He just wanted to soak up the knowledge. One of the best dudes I've ever been around."
Phil Handy, Fadeaway World
Handy again recollected about the time spent with Kawhi on All the Smoke podcast, and he gave him considerable praise, probably the highest in the NBA world.
"Kawhi is cut from the same cloth as Kobe, LeBron as MJ."
Phil Handy, All The Smoke
So, in the end, it all paid off for Kawhi - the Raptors won the 2019 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, and he got the Finals MVP accolades for the second time in his career. However, it didn't work out with the Clippers in these past two seasons, but they could've been much more successful this year if it wasn't for Leonard's injury. We'll see how will Kawhi bounce back from a knee injury and how will the free agency play out. But whoever signs Kawhi has an objective shot of winning the title.
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