By: Michael Spiar, Senior Content Writer
The Kawhi trade of 2018 is now the stuff of Toronto Raptors legend - and for good reason, as the Raps’ first bona fide superstar has led them to their only NBA finals in club history. So you can understand why Raptors fans are pulling out all the stops to convince the Klaw to re-sign with Toronto once he hits free agency this summer.
Here’s your roundup of the most dramatic appeals to keep Kawhi in the Raptors starting lineup for years to come.
#1 - The emotional approach
Feeling wanted is a powerful incentive, and Toronto has gone out of its way to show the Klaw some love through larger-than-life murals. Some of the best examples:
Luxury consignment store OD Toronto put one up commemorating Leonard’s buzzer-beater against Philly:
Immortalizing the moment just before "The Bounce"... for a few days, anyway.
Only to replace it with another one just days later, politely including some of Kawhi's teammates and even a Drake-massaging-Nick-Nurse’s-shoulders cameo:
Looks like basketball is a team sport after all!
With an honourable mention to this Game of Thrones riff in the 6ix’s Regent Park neighbourhood:
All hail the King of the North - long may he reign (in Toronto)!
And while this one isn’t exactly a grassroots effort (nor is it even a mural), you’ve got to appreciate the shade thrown by Kawhi sponsor New Balance down in Oakland to taunt the Warriors faithful:
Oh, the shade of it all.
#2 - The fan-focused pitch
Local tattoo shop Chronic Ink has come up with a “Kawhi Stay, Get Paid!” petition fans can sign showing their support for Kawhi. What sets theirs apart from the rest of the crowd? Everyone who signs gets a $50 gift card if he stays. There are worse ways to get a discount on your next ink job or piercing.
#3 - The real deals
Wine’m, dine’m, let’s re-sign’m
That’s the mantra of the Ka’Wine & Dine campaign by fan group Raptors Republic. The concept? Participating #KaWineandDine restaurants around Toronto will give Kawhi free food for life if he re-signs.
Lest he go hungry again!
Free Kraft dinner for life
Kraft Heinz Co. got in on the act, offering Kawhi a lifetime supply of one of the most popular comfort foods in Canada: Kraft dinner. No word on whether it comes with a chef to prepare it for him.
A luxury penthouse
The Condo Store Realty Inc. made one of the biggest splashes, offering Kawhi a multi-million dollar condo in one of three luxury addresses.
Fit for the King of... oh, you get the idea.
Though the rumours that he’s already bought his own house in town could take the wind out of this offer’s sails.
And the big kahuna - paying his salary up front (!!!)
If Kawhi signs a Supermax deal of $190 million over 5 years, he’d average $38 million per season. Nothing to sneeze at, but isn’t getting his money on day one even better?
That’s what we at local tech firm Blockstation think, launching our #KaWhiWait campaign to arrange a deal for Leonard to get paid up front if he remains King of the North.
It can't be understated - an offer like this might just be unprecedented.
Sound off - which campaign speaks to you?
The Kawhi Leonard-Raptors rumors will continue to swirl until his next deal is signed, but in the meantime, it sure is fun to talk about. So, sound off on social media about your favourites, and may the best incentive win!