With the win, Raptors star Kawhi Leonard was awarded the Bill Russell trophy, given to the Finals MVP, marking his second trophy and making him the first player in NBA history to win the award in both conferences.
“This is what I play basketball for,” Leonard said, according to ESPN. “This is what I work out for.”
“I think he’s the best two-way basketball player in the NBA,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said of Leonard. “He just goes. You know, I’ve seen some stuff from him this year that you just say, ‘Wow.’ You do. You say, ‘Wow.’ You appreciate the work that he’s put in. He works extremely hard at his game and works extremely hard on his body. And he loves this basketball thing. Loves it.”
Leonard averaged 28.5 points per game on 43 percent shooting in the NBA Finals, playing stellar defense as well.
Leonard took home NBA Finals honors back in 2014 when he was a member of the San Antonio Spurs team that knocked off the Miami Hear super-team led by LeBron James, who he played tough defense on throughout.
“Without a doubt, the best thing about this thing is that somehow I wound up on the sideline getting to watch this guy play up close,” said Raptors coach Nick Nurse, who won an NBA title in his first season as a head coach in the league. “It’s really cool.”
Leonard scored 732 points in the 2019 postseason, which ranks as third-most in NBA history behind Michael Jordan (who scored 759 in 1992) and LeBron James (who scored 748 in 2018).
“I just kept working hard, working hard, and had my mind set on this goal right here,” Leonard said. “I came to a team, a new coast — that mindset was the same as mine, trying to get that Larry [O’Brien championship] trophy there. And this is what I play basketball for; this is what I work out for all summer [and] during the season. And I’m happy that my hard work paid off.”
The Raptors now have to convince Leonard, who is set to enter free agency, to stay with the team for the long-term.
“I’m ’bout to enjoy this with my teammates and coaches, and I’ll think about that later,” Leonard said.
Nets’ Caris LeVert Out Following Surgery
LaVery suffered the injury during Sunday night’s loss to the Phoenix Suns and then underwent an X-ray exam, followed by an MRI.
LaVert has averaged 16.8 points per game this season for the Nets.
Wizards’ Isaiah Thomas Wants to Find Permanent Home
Washington Wizards’ guard Isaiah Thomas is looking to find a permanent home as he gets his career back on track.
Thomas is currently on a one-year minimum contract with the Wizards, and while he didn’t rule out a long-term deal with Washington, he did state his goal is on this long-term future.
“I want to be somewhere I can be three or four years,” Thomas said, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic.
“I was in Sacramento for three years. I was in Boston for three years. Even though that’s not a long time, I was comfortable there. My family was able to build relationships with people around the organization, people around the city. It just made things easier. So, what I am looking for — obviously, I want to get paid the most I possibly can, because I feel like I deserve that, but I also want to be able to be somewhere for a while.”
Thomas is averaging 13.2 points and 6.2 assists per game for the Wizards this season.
Celtics’ Gordon Hayward Undergoes Surgery
Hayward suffered the injury during Saturday’s victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
Hayward, 29, had been showing signs of a return to form of late, so the injury comes at a bad time.
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