Here’s Why Kawhi Leonard Was Reluctant to Raise the Eastern Conference Trophy

So, as you know, the Toronto Raptors are going to the NBA Finals. And they got here largely off the back of the Übermensch that is Kawhi Leonard. But if you watched the Eastern Conference title presentation on Saturday night, you might’ve noticed Leonard was hesitant to lift the trophy when MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum offered it to him.

Moments before this, Kyle Lowry tried handing Leonard the trophy as well, but similarly, the superstar refused. If you listen close enough, you can hear Kawhi give his reasoning: “I want the Larry O.B.,” he tells teammate Danny Green. To which Green, with whom he won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014, replies with a terse, “Yehh.” Watch below:

Let that sink in for a minute. He wants the Larry O.B. — as in, the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy. As in the trophy you get when you win the whole damn thing. He’s been here before — conference championships are meaningless to him. The dude doesn’t want to celebrate until he wins another chip. While the rest of his teammates are reveling in the moment, the Klaw is already calibrating protocols for the next round. That’s a stone cold killer’s mentality right there, folks.

It’s also, incidentally, proof that Kawhi is low-key more Canadian than people realize. In hockey, touching — let alone hoisting — the conference trophy is considered a big taboo. There’s a superstition among NHLers that it’s bad luck. (You Raptors fans best be knocking on wood right now.)

For Kawhi, though, the more likely explanation is he’s got unfinished business: why celebrate when the job isn’t done yet? And considering his performance thus far — he’s one of only six players in NBA history to average 31 points in a post-season with at least 17 games played — he’s more than capable of getting the job done. Take note, Golden State Warriors — the best basketball player in the world has you in his crosshairs. He wants the Larry O.B., and he’s not touching so much as a drop of champagne (or a morsel of cow penis) until he gets it. In fact, chances are even when he does win the championship, he’ll be too focused on winning the next one to soak it in.

Meanwhile, DeMar DeRozan is out here watching all of this like: