Fred VanVleet has a simple message for Raptors fans still reeling after Kawhi Leonard signed with the L.A. Clippers: “He moved on, and we’ve got to do the same.”
The point guard made an appearance Wednesday at the Raptors Basketball Academy in Etobicoke, where he took questions during an offseason that saw Toronto lose its best player to free agency.
And just as teammate Pascal Siakam intimated last week, VanVleet isn’t sweating Kawhi’s departure.
“You respect the guy, what he wants to do,” VanVleet shared in the video above. “Would we have liked him to be back? Of course! He’s one of the best players in the game. But we don’t think about it like that. I think all of us as players have egos and we’re all prideful and proud. I know what I did to help us win a championship, and I know what the rest of the guys on our team did.
“Fans and people from the outside put a lot of stock into the players as these, you know, above human kind of statuses, and he’s an unbelievable basketball player, don’t get me wrong. But for us in the locker room, we’re all equal. So you respect him as a brother, as a friend. He moved on, and we’ve got to do the same.”
VanVleet went on to discuss the Raptors’ championship, explaining how fast things can change in a highly-competitive NBA.
“I mean, I know where I was in the Philly series and how fast it could change. Kyle’s been here from, you know, when they were booing and chanting to tank, so everybody’s seen both sides of it. So, we win a championship, everybody praises you and pats you on the back, and then Kawhi leaves and it’s right back to ground zero, where we were before.
“So, just stay even keeled, we stay hungry and we’re back to work and trying to look forward to next year.”
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