• Kawhi Leonard made his return to Toronto
  • The Raptors gave him a special tribute
  • He got his championship ring as well.

The National Basketball Association showdown between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night at the latter's Scotiabank Arena became a well-anticipated affair for a very special reason.

For the first time since joining the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard made his return to Toronto, and the fans flocked the arena to see the hero to the Raptors' triumphant run last season back "home".

To recall, in a blockbuster yet high-risk trade during the 2018 offseason, Toronto, well aware that Leonard may still opt for free agency after the 2018-19 season, acquired him from San Antonio in a multi-player deal that saw former star Raptor DeMar DeRozan joining the Spurs.

That eventual one and done stint for Leonard worked wonders as the Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors in last season's finals to win their first NBA title.

However, Leonard passed up on a chance to build a dynasty with the Raptors and went homebound in LA to play for the Clippers. Thought that his free agency decision did not sit well with the Raptors, Leonard said during team practice that he was expecting the heel treatment in his homecoming.

"There will be some cheers, but definitely more boos because they want to win the game," said Leonard in the said pre-game interview.

However, the exact opposite happened. When Leonard was introduced as a starter for the Clippers, the sellout crowd cheered loudly for him as if he never left Toronto at all especially after a video tribute was flashed in the giant monitor.

The said video documented Kawhi Leonard's season with Toronto, from the preseason press conference where his now-infamous laugh took place to how his season went and to the championship parade where he once again did that laugh.

The Raptors then highlighted Leonard's major moment last season, his game-winner in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers, by reenacting the said play with "steps". Kyle Lowry then gave him his championship ring. The fans then showered Leonard with "MVP" chants in honor of his Finals MVP performance.

Leonard put up 23 points to lead the Clippers to a 112-92 win against the Raptors.

Kawhi Leonard Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers dribbles during a 111-91 Denver Nuggets preseason win at Staples Center on October 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images