Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard (2) drives against Dallas Mavericks’ Maxi Kleber (42), of Germany, during first half pre-season NBA basketball action in Vancouver on Thursday October 17, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Kawhi Leonard had a tough night on the court Thursday, but basketball fans enthusiastically welcomed the former Toronto Raptors star back to Canada all the same.

Leonard went five-for-19 from the floor as his L.A. Clippers were beaten 102-87 by the Dallas Mavericks in a pre-season game in Vancouver.

Cheers echoed around Rogers Arena as Leonard led the Clippers on to the court for warm ups and fans got loud each time he hit a shot.

“(Vancouver’s) a great basketball town, a great city,” the 28-year-old said after the game. “You see how they came out tonight, full building. So it was great just to be back.”

Thursday marked Leonard’s return to the city where he took part in his first and only training camp with the Raptors last year.

He went on to lead the Toronto team to their first NBA championship, averaging 30.5 points per game in a playoff run that generated huge television ratings across Canada.

Leonard then opted to join his hometown Clippers in free agency, reportedly agreeing to a three-year, US$103-million contract.

He struggled to sink baskets early in Thursday’s contest, but ended the game with 13 points, three rebounds and two assists.

Before tipoff, Canadians Dwight Powell and Mfiondu Kabengele stood at centre court and thanked fans for coming out.

Powell, a Toronto native, is in his fifth year with the Mavericks but did not play Thursday due to a left hamstring strain.

The Clippers picked Kabengele, who hails from Burlington, Ont., 27th overall in this year’s draft. He came on late in the fourth quarter for L.A., putting up a solid block in the game’s final seconds.

Outside the arena on Thursday, some fans used the game as an opportunity to send the NBA a message.

A group of about 10 people wearing various face masks expressed their displeasure with how the league has handled recent controversy around a tweet Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted voicing support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said the league values freedom of expression, but others, including L.A. Lakers star LeBron James, have criticized Morey for his now-deleted post.

On Thursday, protesters in Vancouver carried signs reading “#StandWithHongKong” and “NBA bowed to totalitarian China. We won’t.”

Meanwhile, a separate and slightly larger group rallied in the same area, calling for the league to bring a team back to Vancouver.

The city was home to the Grizzlies from 1995 to 2001, when the franchise moved to Memphis.

RELATED: Fans rally to bring back the Vancouver Grizzlies outside NBA pre-season game

Chants of “We want Grizzlies!” broke out through the arena during the fourth quarter.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

New charging station part of South Shuswap Transportation Society roadmap

Director’s Notes by CSRD Electoral Area E Director Paul Demenok

Sicamous to receive $6 million for construction of Shuswap Healing Centre

Federal/provincial infrastructure funding also announced for Chase pedestrian bridge

Neighbours raise concerns about proposed housing development in Salmon Arm

Objections to 11th Street SE plans include increased traffic, diversion of creek, loss of greenspace

Morning Start: Dogs can smell cancer

Your morning start for Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Salmon Arm Council pleased with plans for Habitat for Humanity housing project

Twenty-unit building, mainly for 55-plus seniors, in the works

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision by Golden

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

Okanagan home destroyed by fire

Call came in from Teresa Road in Lake Country just after 6 a.m. Tuesday, July 7

Lower Similkameen Indian Band closes beach near Cawston to non-band members

The COVID-19 crisis “has not gone away” and “remains an ever present threat” says the LSIB

B.C. homeowners plead for action on condo insurance crisis

Strata property fees growing bigger than mortgage payments

Security camera captures woman stealing package from Westbank doorstep

Sharon Utton posted a video of the incident to Facebook shortly after it happened on Saturday, July 4

Indigenous man behind complaint of BC Transplant’s alcohol abstinence policy has died

David Dennis, who is Nuu-chah-nulth, argued that six-month sobriety policy is a ‘lethal form of racism’

Hidden cameras in Okanagan forests catch illegal dumpers, lead to fines

The Okanagan Forest Task Force’s have led to 13 or 14 tickets for illegal dumpers

Most Read