2

The Kawhi pitch: Toronto’s best case to keep its superstar free agent

The Kawhi pitch: Toronto’s best case to keep its superstar free agent

Given what we’ve achieved together over the past year, it’s fair to say that Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors created a new template for the NBA. You know as we do that what was referred to casually — and often dismissively — in the media as “load management” was so much more than your finding rest on back-to-back stretches. It was a collaborative and thoughtful process befitting an athlete who plays with uncommon magnitude and force, whose every movement on the court is a portrait of intention.

You teamed up with our director of sports science, Alex McKechnie, physiotherapist Amanda Joaquim and others in our organization, and methodically navigated your output to perfection. When you said in March that the NBA’s regular season was “82 practices,” we fully embraced that characterization, just as we endorsed your larger approach. McKechnie, for years, has been at the forefront of this performance movement, and we consider your partnership with him an achievement.

We’re a forward-thinking NBA franchise that understands that there are many reasons you’ve been the MVP of the 2019 playoffs — your talent, preparation, temperament. But there’s also your devotion to best practices. We look at an otherworldly superstar like James Harden and wonder had he not crossed the 3,000-minute threshold sometime during Game 4 of the Rockets’ first-round series — a multiyear pattern for him — whether we would have faced Houston and not Golden State in the Finals.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

There are stars, front offices and coaches who reject this thinking, who reside in an old-world sensibility where toughing it out in a “man’s league” is the dominant worldview. Not us. Like you, we appreciate that every small decision is part of a much larger whole. There’s no one game, single practice or individual workout that stands apart from the greater goal of winning a championship; every choice affects the greater outcome.2

Watching you go about your business on a daily basis has been a revelation to us. From the moment you arrive at the facility, it’s an exercise in machinelike efficiency: weights, shots, medical, film, practice, ice, and whatever else your preparation demands. Not a moment or movement wasted. And it’s not simply that we admire how you put in a day’s work — we’ve learned from it. You made us aware early on that you’re a player accustomed to structure, and we listened. As a result, we’re a better basketball operation today than when you arrived, something that has been borne out this spring.

Our head coach, Nick Nurse, has won at every level throughout his career — but more important, he’s a listener. When you asked questions about defensive rotations or coverage schemes, we explained that our principles of ball pressure and getting in gaps were less specific in their directives, but over the course of the regular season and playoffs, we melded our approaches. In doing so, we extinguished the East’s top-ranked offense, rendering it impotent in a six-game series, then upended a dynasty en route to the title.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

On the other end, we installed an offense that both maximizes the collective intelligence and inherent unselfishness of our unit, but also empowers your exceptional individual skill set. We’ve worked with you to put you in the best position to succeed on a given possession by furnishing you with the brightest teammates who intuitively understand where, when and how you like the ball. While we respect that you’ll survey the field for other franchises with talent, we are steadfast in our belief that you will not find another roster with more professionalism, experience and unselfishness. Nor will you find a collection of teammates with a willingness to defer to your dominance at the biggest moments, while doing all the little things required for you to succeed in those moments.