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Canada

Raptors fans express love for Kawhi

Stay in Toronto, Kawhi!

Hundreds of thousands of overjoyed Raptors fans endured long waits to cheer on their championship team at Monday’s parade which slowly meandered from Exhibition Place to Nathan Phillips Square.

But the wait wasn’t the only thing making some fans anxious.

Toronto fans gather in front of the city hall during the Toronto Raptors NBA Championship celebration parade at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, June 17, 2019. HYUNGWON KANG / REUTERS

The fate of Raptors star Kawhi Leonard — a free agent who must now decide whether to stay with Toronto’s franchise or play for another — was on the minds of many.

“Whether his family wants him to go or whether he stays, we have his trust — that’s the main thing,” said one fan who hopes to see Leonard in a Raptors jersey next season. “We know that if he goes it’s for his family, he’s not leaving this, he’s not going to a better situation. We gained his trust with his health and he’s seen what kind of team we have.”

If the love and support of the team’s fan base are a factor, Monday’s parade surely enouraged Leonard to remain in Toronto.

“I never dreamed that it could ever be this great,” one fan said of the parade.

Local businesses have joined fans in reaching out to Leonard.

The pending free agent was the focus of the Ka’wine and dine program offered by local Toronto restaurants, which offered the basketball great free food for life.

He was even offered a multi-million dollar penthouse condo in downtown Toronto by Simon Mass, CEO of The Condo Store Realty Inc.

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