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NBA finals is business as usual for Kawhi


While I do consider myself a Toronto Raptors fan, having followed the team since they entered the league, I confess I don’t really follow the NBA that closely.
I know most of the top superstars such as Lebron James, Steph Curry and James Harden. But there are other players I have never heard of.
Until he was traded to the Raptors last summer, I had never heard of Kawhi Leonard.
After watching him play in Toronto this past season, I am of the belief that Leonard is the best player in the NBA. He can hurt you offensively and he can hurt you defensively.
What I like most about him is his demeanor. You rarely see any emotion from him. He is all business on the court and has no time for the showboating that other players are known for.
Watch the pregame player introductions. Most other players make a spectacle of it, but not Kawhi. He just high-fives his teammates and gets ready to take care of business.
And, if you listen to his press conferences, he just wants to win. Those were his exact words when asked whether he is concerned about not being as “famous” as other NBA superstars.
New Balance, a major sports footwear and clothing manufacturer, has an ad campaign featuring Kawhi.
One huge billboard in Toronto has a photo of Leonard wearing a New Balance hoody, while being proclaimed “the King in the North”, a take on the team’s We the North slogan, as well the popular HBO program Game of Thrones, which recently wrapped up its eighth and final season.
In Oakland, home of the Golden State Warriors, there is another New Balance billboard in which residents are warned “the King of the North is coming” with another picture of Kawhi in New Balance gear and a list of teams the Raptors have beaten in this year’s playoffs crossed out.
Whoever came up with the idea for this marketing campaign deserves a raise, as far as I’m concerned.
The Boston Bruins are two wins away from winning the seventh Stanley Cup in team history and the first since 2011.
But the St. Louis Blues will have something to say about that as they chase after their first Stanley Cup.
Not many people may know this or remember, but St. Louis reached the final in each of their first three years in the league and were swept each time, by Montreal the first two years and once by Boston on Bobby Orr’s overtime goal in game four which was caught on film in one of the most iconic photos in sports history.
Win or lose, the Blues’ run to the final caps a remarkable turnaround for a team that was in last place in the entire league in early January.
St. Louis finished the regular season on a run which saw them go 30-10-5, securing third place in the Central Division. And now they find themselves playing for the Stanley Cup.
Vladdy Guerrero Jr. appears to be settling in as a Major League baseball player.
After a slow start and some early struggles, the Jays’ highly touted rookie is starting to look more comfortable at the plate, especially on a recent road trip.
Vladdy was hitting just .191 with zero home runs when the six-game trip through San Francisco and Chicago began a couple of weeks ago. When the Jays returned home, his average was up to .235 and he had hit four dingers (and, no, I did not see him hit his first career home run. Sorry to disappoint you, Bryn.) In fact, in an eight-game stretch, Guerrero Jr. hit .370 with four home runs and nine runs-batted-in.
Guerrero is now up to six home runs and a .248 average after the weekend.
But for the Jays to have any success this season, they need more than just Vladdy to get better at the plate. Toronto’s offence is one of the worst in the Majors. As a team, the Jays are hitting a meager .219, the worst in the Majors. And only Detroit (201) and Miami (189) have scored fewer than Toronto’s 221 runs.
There are occasional signs of life from the offence. But, for the most part, it has struggled and, as a result, the Jays are well on their way to a bad season. As of Monday morning, only the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals have worse records than the Jays.

Doug Zywina