Skip to content

Toronto mayor jokes that he supports calls for Raptors Kawhi Leonard as mayor


TORONTO — Jubilant fans took to social media after the Toronto Raptors' series-winning, buzzer beating basket to demand the team's soft-spoken star be handed the mayor's job, along with anything else Kawhi Leonard wanted.

Toronto Mayor John Tory, tongue planted firmly in cheek, said Monday that he supported those calls, though he wasn't sure if Leonard would want the gig.

"Even I would have to consider the call for Kawhi Leonard to be the mayor of the city, although I don't think he'd like the job very much," Tory told reporters with a smile before an announcement about the upcoming construction season.

"You would have trouble, as the media, with the shortness of his answers — you'd miss my long answers as much as you might not admit that."

Leonard, notorious for saying little and showing even less emotion, triggered a fan frenzy after making an incredible shot at the end of Game 7 to beat the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday.

His shot bounced off the rim four times before going in. The win sent the team to the conference finals against the Milwaukee Bucks. Leonard himself went bonkers, before composing himself for a rather dry post-game interview.

Tory said he did not make a ceremonial bet against Philadelphia's mayor, a practice he said he's getting away from — for jinx-related reasons.

"Maybe that was a good omen, because the mayor of Boston told me that after a certain number of times he had just stopped betting and that their fortunes improved after that," Tory said.

"So maybe the outcome of this series is an indication that I'm better off not to bet."

Earlier in his mayoral tenure, Tory made a show of betting on big games.

In 2015, Toronto Blue Jay slugger Jose Bautista launched a home run against the Texas Rangers that helped clinch the victory in the first round of the playoffs. After he hit the ball, Bautista flipped his bat before beginning to run the bases. That became both an iconic moment in Toronto sports history.

Tory, on the backs of the collective high from the city's sports fans, came out big for the next series against the Kansas City Royals.

He bet "real beer" from three local craft breweries against his counterpart's barbecue. During the show for reporters, Tory then tossed the bat he was holding into a pond at city hall, not too far from one of the videographers.

"Oh geez, did I almost club somebody?" Tory asked. "I hope not."

The Blue Jays lost that series.

The Raptors open their third-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press