Kawhi Leonard is an athlete and man of letting his actions speak for him, whether that be on the court or on the podium. Granted, if you had the over for viral media moments involving Leonard before the season started, you were probably nervous going in, but pleasantly surprised throughout all the way up to his eventual exit.
The reigning Finals MVP took his time making his decision. Leonard was the last and biggest free agent domino to fall and the impact of that choice affected more franchises than just the Raptors. So, how does a player like Kawhi tell Nick Nurse he's going home? As per ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, it was by way of a simple text.
THE UNMISTAKABLE WAIL of electric guitar prompted Nick Nurse to bound to his feet. The grand finale he'd been waiting on was finally here, and the Toronto Raptors coach waved his arms to the heavens, gleefully swaying to the beat with the rest of the packed house at the Tropicana in Las Vegas.
What Prince fan doesn't love "Purple Rain"? Although the high priest of pop had died of an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2016, Nurse was sold on impersonator Jason Tenner, who, on this steamy July 5 evening, felt to him like the real deal. He turned and grinned at Raptors assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren, who had toiled alongside Nurse in the G League with the Iowa Energy before joining him in Toronto, where they had just delivered the first title in franchise history.
The two young coaches, still immersed in their championship stupor, bumped fists, then crooned in unison, "I never want to cause you any sorrow ... I never want to cause you any pain ... I only wanted to see you laughing ... in the purple rain."
It was too loud to hear their phones as the song hit its crescendo, but both Nurse and Bjorkgren had their cells on vibrate. Instinctively, they reached for their pockets, as manufactured purple haze from the Vegas extravaganza swallowed them.
Nurse looked down. The text message simply read, "I'm going home."
Nurse and Raptors assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren were at a concert when they got text from Kawhi on July 5th. Three words later, Leonard left for the Clippers and you can't blame him, nor be angry with him.
You can only move on and it didn't take long for Nurse to do so.
"I saw Fred [VanVleet] and Pascal the day after [Kawhi left]," Nurse says. "I told them, 'There are 20-plus shots up for grabs.' They both grabbed their right shoulders and said, 'We're ready.'"
The Raptors aren't going to let rest of the league walk over them this season and you can bet they've got December 11th circled, the day Kawhi reportedly returns as a member of the Clippers.
(H/T: Jackie MacMullan)