Jalen Rose says the Raptors need to retire Kawhi Leonard’s number
Nick Schwartz | USA TODAY SPORTS
The Golden State Warriors were widely mocked earlier this summer when team owner Joe Lacob announced that he would effectively retire Kevin Durant’s number following his move to Brooklyn, and ensure that no player would wear No. 35 while he remained in charge. Durant won two NBA Finals MVP awards in three seasons with the Warriors, of course, but jersey retirements are typically reserved for team legends who spend the bulk of their career in one location.
According to ESPN’s Jalen Rose, the Toronto Raptors should also retire Kawhi Leonard’s No. 2, after he led the team to the first championship season in franchise history. Leonard opted to leave Toronto for Los Angeles after just a single season.
“If I was a member of the Toronto Raptors, here’s what I would do. We’ve seen guys get video tributes that were questionable. The boss move? Retire his number that night…. I would retire his number that day. That’s what should happen.
…. Here’s what I want you to think about. The Toronto Raptors have not been around for 60 years. They’ve been around for about 25 years. They’d never been to the finals, they’d never won a championship. The greatest players in franchise history while in their uniform, Vince Carter, DeMar DeRozan. Got to give Biggie a shout, Damon Stoudamire. Tracy McGrady was a young player when he was there, and Chris Bosh.
You’re going to celebrate those guys as the greatest Raptors of all time…. But Kawhi did something uniquely special. You give him a standing ovation, and you retire his number when he returns!”
Leonard played a total of 84 games in a Raptors uniform (including 24 in the postseason). During that playoff stretch, Leonard averaged 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, and in addition to capturing a Finals MVP award against the Warriors, he delivered one of the greatest playoff highlights of all time against the Sixers.
Still, Leonard missed 20 games in the regular season and finished 9th in MVP voting. Is one playoff run worth a retired number?
You make the call…