Should the Toronto Raptors Retire Kawhi Leonard's Number?
A point of discussion ever since the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship in June has been whether or not the team should retire Kawhi Leonard’s jersey number. I have my own opinion on this but, last week on the Jalen and Jacoby Show, Jalen Rose took his own stance.
The ex-Raptor said if he was the Raptors Kawhi’s jersey would be retired the first time he comes back to Toronto. I can see the argument for Kawhi getting his number retired one day but, getting it retired on his first return? That’s like being the clingy ex-girlfriend.
Regardless of me seeing the argument for it, I don’t think it should happen... ever.
Jalen argues that, before Kawhi, the Raptors had never done anything notable in their relatively short history. The best guys before him were Vince Carter, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Chris Bosh. The franchise had never made it to the NBA Finals, let alone win the chip.
You can also look at it the way some other people do and say he deserves it because you can’t talk about Raptors history anymore without the mention of Kawhi Leonard. Well, if that’s the case then Damon Stoudamire should be retired because he was the team’s first-ever draft pick. What about Andrea Bargnani? The teams first real bust. Or, Jose Calderon?
You can’t really talk about Raptors history without the mention of those guys.
Obviously, they shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as a guy like Kawhi. However, if you’re retiring guys numbers for their part in history, they have to be in the discussion.
Kawhi wore Toronto Raptors gear for 84 games in which he scored a total of 2,328 points (27.7 PPG). That number doesn’t even crack the top 10 of total points in Raptors history. That’s not enough.
It’s not like he joined a trash team, came in and carried them to a championship. The Raptors were a perennial 50 win team and were as close as it gets to 60 wins the year before he showed up. Not to mention, they had to go against playoff LeBron in the three years prior.
Also, Kawhi was never going to stay and by all indication, didn’t want to come here in the first place. The Raptors weren’t on his list of teams he wanted the San Antonio Spurs to trade him to. If it were up to him, I’m sure he never would’ve given the Raptors a meeting.
I know there were weeks when people, even myself, thought he was signing here. However, from what we know now, that was never the plan.
As soon as free agency hit, he called up just about every available superstar to see if they wanted to join him on the Clippers.
He didn’t leave in a good way and he didn’t even show a ton of love for the city when he did leave. So, I don’t understand why people think he left on such a good note.
Let me be clear, there’s nothing wrong with the way he left. I personally love that the NBA has so much player empowerment and movement throughout the league. It’s exciting and, lets the players play where they want.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Carter, Lowry and DeRozan should, and likely will, have their numbers retired before Kawhi. The order of those three is for another time, but if the Raptors organization even really considers Kawhi first, all that is is disrespect.
I loved Kawhi’s time in Toronto as much as the next guy but it’s hard to believe it deserves a jersey retirement. Yes, he was great. Yes, he did something for the city that had never been done before. However, he wasn’t here long enough. He didn’t show the city love as others have. What he did was a lot, it just wasn’t enough.