He was already handed a key to the city, but doors continue to open for Kawhi Leonard in Toronto.
Days after he brought the city its first NBA championship, Toronto Raptors fans — and the rest of the league — have shifted their focus to where the two-time Finals MVP will play next season.
With free agency looming on June 30, there are only a handful of days left to convince Leonard to pass on opportunities in Los Angeles and stick around the GTA.
The heavy lifting will be left to Masai Ujiri, the Raptors’ president of basketball operations and architect behind the championship team, but the rest of the city has proven to be a viable supporting cast.
It takes a village to recruit a superstar. Here’s how Toronto is doing its part:
Board man gets books
You know the old saying: Having fun isn’t hard when you have a library card.
Well, what better gift for a Fun Guy than a custom pass that provides free access to books, movies and instruments at 100 convenient locations across the city?
The Toronto Public Library wanted to make sure Leonard was aware of the many perks that come with being a card holder. Does he know you can pick up free passes to the Royal Ontario Museum if you get there early enough on a Saturday morning?
Leonard may be a hard person to read, but his book-borrowing experience no longer needs to be.
What says “welcome to the neighbourhood” more than a house plant?
Plant Guy became an viral sensation on social media after his interview during the street celebrations following the Raptors victory over the Warriors in Game 6.
Days later at the victory parade, Plant Guy made the delivery, handing it personally to Leonard, who couldn’t help but smile. If Leonard does stay, Raptors fans have one person to thank.
If Leonard didn’t feel like the King of the North already, free accommodation in a penthouse condo should do the trick.
Simon Mass, CEO of The Condo Store Realty Inc., is willing to offer Leonard his preferred choice of high-end condos in the city including the Four Seasons, St. Regis, Shangri-La or Ritz-Carlton hotel residences.
That was even before Leonard became a two-time NBA champion while winning the Finals MVP for a second time. It might be time to offer him a cottage in Muskoka, too.
Chest pass, bounce pass, Presto pass
Joey Votto and Leonard might get along well. They both know the life of a star athlete but prefer not to be treated like one.
The Cincinnati Reds first baseman and Toronto native has been a Raptors fan since Day 1. In a congratulatory video message to the team after the NBA Finals win, Votto couldn’t help but make a pitch for Leonard to stay.
“If you decide to stay in Toronto with the Raptors, I have an unused Presto pass with your name on it.”
Free everything for life!
Raptors Republic, a Toronto Raptors fan blog site, launched the KaWine and Dine campaign, which has been spreading across the Greater Toronto Area.
Restaurants, barber shops, movie theatres, taxi companies and several other businesses have put “Kawhi shops free here” stickers on their storefronts over since the initiative began in May.
From Filipino home cooking at Lola’s in Rexdale to Indian cuisine at Bombay Bhel in Thornhill, Kawhi will never have to pay for a meal again if he decides to work in Toronto.
The Raptors have the ability to sign Leonard to a longer and more lucrative deal than any other team in the NBA. But that didn’t stop a Toronto company from offering to help pay his salary.
Blockstation, a digital asset trading company, has offered to help get Leonard his five-year contract compensation up front by creating the “Kawhi Coin,” a security token listed on a national stock exchange that Raptors fans can invest in.
The plan is called KaWhiWait and urges fans to sign up, invest and play a part in getting Kawhi to stay.
Bruce Arthur: Kawhi’s decision will determine if the party continues or a hangover begins
Raptors fans take their best shot at selling Kawhi on repeat performance
Kawhi Leonard visits Niagara Falls, a day after NBA championship parade
Braydon Holmyard is a digital producer based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @braydonholmyard