Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

19.25 18 Jun 2019


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Toronto Raptors made history this season by winning their first ever NBA title.

The Canadian franchise saw off the dominant Golden State Warriors during the finals series.

"They're the only NBA franchise outside of the United States, so it really felt like all of Canada rooting for that team," said Slam Magazine editor emeritus Ryan 'Farmer' Jones who joined us to discuss the achievement.

"I think a lot of folk in the US don't think of Canada as a place where basketball's a big deal. But it's grown a great deal since they've had NBA teams. They used to have a Vancouver team on the West Coast and they've had the Raptors since about the mid-90s.

"But increasingly they've had more and more Canadian homegrown players who've made it to the NBA. Very good players.

"So Canada's actually a great area for basketball and Toronto in particular. It kind of felt they were due."

Innovation?

But Jones also added that Toronto haven't made any drastic tactical developments to win.

"The Raptors didn't really do anything terribly innovative. But they had the right guy in Kawhi Leonard and the right cast around him," he explained.

While all is looking rosy for Toronto, Leonard's future is unclear. He's about to become a free agent and has been linked with a move to one of his hometown Los Angeles' franchises.

"He is a free agent and he is from southern California, near Los Angeles. The Lakers and Clippers both theoretically have enough money to lure him away back to his home turf," he said.

"The Lakers now have basically just finalised a deal for Anthony Davis to join LeBron. If they could get Kawhi Leonard as well, that team would immediately be heavy favourites to win next year."

And there's one left-field thing about Leonard that fascinates people: his signature laugh. If you don't know what we mean, watch it above where he took the proverbial out of himself.

"He's an odd guy and I think part of it is the laugh itself sounds ridiculous," said Jones.

"But beyond that he doesn't fit the superstar mould at all as far as his personality. He's very private and he doesn't do a lot in terms of endorsements.

"He doesn't have that public presence and that natural charisma that we've seen over the years from Kobe, LeBron and Steph Curry. I think famously he was driving a beat-up 20-year-old car even after he won the Finals MVP a few years ago. So he's just a bit of an odd duck, an outlier. And one of the jokes is he never smiles or very, very rarely.

"But he not only smiled but laughed. And that was the laugh. There's a lot of unintentional comedy with Kawhi Leonard."


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Basketball Canada Kawhi Leonard NBA Off The Ball Ryan Jones Toronto Raptors

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