Toronto Mayor John Tory took a rather rare approach in asking fans to respect Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard ahead of the star’s pending free-agency decision.
During a press conference Saturday, Tory and Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia asked for Raptors fans and people in the city to let Leonard enjoy his down time. They also requested for fans to stop “harassing” him and to give him some space.
“I want to put a request in the media right now because our superstar, Kawhi Leonard, he’s going out in the city and he’s being, like, paparazzi, he’s being harassed. You know, followed. We’re not giving him the space, which he deserves to have the space. We have won the championship. NBA champions, we are. Let him enjoy the city right now, let him enjoy his privacy right now with his family. Just leave him alone, let him enjoy the city,” Bhatia said.
“Please, when you see him somewhere, don’t run after him for the pictures or anything. Just say thank you to him for getting us the championship, being part of the team which got us the championship. Because you all fans, you were also a part of getting the championship, you played a big role. But right now, I want you to play a bigger role.”
— Global News Toronto (@globalnewsto) June 22, 2019
Tory and Bhatia came up with a plan to give Leonard space by creating a website called KawhiUShouldStay.com . It allows fans to sign a petition and leave the NBA Finals MVP a message without bothering him in public.
“You know what this represents for people? This represents a way in which we can be passionate about getting Kawhi Leonard to stay in Toronto, but to do it in the Toronto way,” Tory said. “The Toronto way says we do it quietly, we do it in a determined way, but we make sure made our voice is heard through something like a petition, so he can enjoy the city.”
Leonard led the Raptors to their first NBA championship in franchise history this past season after defeating the Warriors in six games in the NBA Finals. The three-time All-Star played an integral role, averaging 30.5 points with 9.1 assists per game during the postseason.