Kawhi leaving the Raptors is old news now, but time hasn’t quite healed this wound yet. This move cut us deep, man. Real deep. But we can’t be upset forever. Let’s take a few minutes to properly reflect, mourn, and come back to our senses, shall we?
Let’s go back to when Kawhi first came onto the Canadian scene. Many of us Raptors fans were slightly bitter towards this new guy since he was the one who replaced Demar. I mean, every player on the Toronto team might as well have been named Demar because he was the only one worth talking about at the time. And then he was replaced? By some guy from San Antonio? Where the heck even IS San Antonio? Canadians don’t care!
But… we warmed up to the guy from San Antonio. Eventually, he even became the guy from Toronto. The ONLY guy from Toronto, really. And by the time playoffs rolled around, an entire country (and then some) of Raptors fans were on the Kawhi bandwagon. We fell in love with him gradually, the way you fall in love with a beautiful tree you’ve planted and watched bloom. A big, beautiful, 3-point shooting tree with remarkable swagger.
We tried not to think about his impending free agent-ship. He wouldn’t leave a team after only one year! But let’s face it, when the announcement came, we weren’t really surprised. Although we still hate to lose him, you can’t blame the guy for wanting to go home. You really can’t.
The guy is from LA. He’s FROM Los Angeles! His elementary school is there. He likely bought his first pair of basketball sneakers there. His favorite beach is probably there – and let’s face it, there are no good beaches in Toronto. Yes, native Torontonians will argue this, but they’re wrong. They can’t compare to the sandy shores of the Pacific. You know what? Kawhi’s favorite cinnamon buns are probably made at a café in LA. The Kraft Heinz company may have offered him unlimited Kraft Dinner for the rest of his life, but KD isn’t exactly a substitute for his favorite cinnamon buns, now is it?
Kawhi isn’t the only sports figure who wanted to go home. Derrick Rose may be young, but he stood his ground and chose to play for his hometown. Maurice “The Rocket” Richard didn’t even want to coach another team across the province from his family and hometown, so he left the Quebec Nordiques to go back to Montreal.
We tend to believe that all that matters to celebrities is money. It’s hard not to think that way when Sidney Crosby makes $10 million per year, Serena Williams is worth about $180 million, and Michael Jordan has earned $1.4 billion since 1984, just from corporate partners. The media has made it hard for us to believe that anyone with that kind of money would make a decision based on emotion or nostalgia, but it certainly seems like Kawhi has done just that. He gave up $38 million in Toronto for $33.5 million in LA. But the cinnamon buns are worth it to a fun guy like Kawhi.
All of this to say, let’s give this 3-point shooting, swaggerific tree/guy a break, peeps. Yes, we’re sad he left the Raptors. Yes, we’re even a bit angry that he didn’t choose to stick with the city that gave him a celebration parade with a million attendees. But we have to get our heads back on straight, stop them from spinning in disbelief. We have to not begrudge his choice. We have to stop dwelling on it! Let’s let the guy enjoy going home.