The Current

Kawhi Leonard could be the 'truly great player' Raptors need, sports writer says

They were once dismissed as a joke in purple uniforms. Now, the Toronto Raptors' fan base has reached new heights. Sports writer Cathal Kelly joins us to explain the rise of the team’s rise to success.

Toronto is one win away from a berth in the Eastern Conference final

Toronto's Kawhi Leonard goes to the net against Philadelphia's James Ennis III in Game 2 on Monday. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)
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Kawhi Leonard, the Toronto Raptors' star player who came out swinging in the first four games of the playoff series, could be just the thing to push the team to greatness, according to a sports writer with the Globe and Mail.

"In the NBA these days, to win, you don't need some good players. You need at least one truly, truly great player, and they finally have that player in [Kahwi] Leonard," Cathal Kelly told The Current's guest host, Matt Galloway.

"He's never really given an interview. He's never really talked about how he feels about the game, or other people. He almost never reacts on the court.

"He's just a robot built to kill other basketball teams."

Fans cheer for the Toronto Raptors outside the Scotiabank Arena during their 2016 playoff run. (John Rieti/CBC)

The Raptors are in the heat of a playoff battle against the Philadelphia 76ers, with Game 6 set for Thursday night.

If they manage to break through to the next round, Kelly said, it could draw in even more fans who are hooked on the drama.

For a franchise that has historically been "defined by disappointment," Kelly said Leonard has been "absolutely crucial" to raising the Raptors' profile to its current height.

"If you look at the great teams in the NBA, they are always defined by a single player: the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James, the Golden State Warriors and [Stephen] Curry," he said.

"Kawhi is in the midst of it. He's having a playoff run that, statistically is one of the greatest in the history of the game."

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Produced by Sarah-Joyce Battersby.

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