GANTER: Leonard frankly isn’t interested in what people think

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — It seems all that angst over the ridicule Kawhi Leonard received on social media and in some of the mainstream media was for naught.

Leonard, to the surprise of very few, doesn’t bother with either.

“I don’t really know what people were thinking because I don’t have social media and I don’t read what anyone (writes),” Leonard said at shootaround Tuesday morning in Park City. 

The target of all the ridicule and mocking was a unique Leonard laugh during his media availability on Media Day last Monday in Toronto.

Because it was his first public comments since the trade that particular conference got plenty of attention. The laugh went viral and became fodder for would-be mockers.

Leonard has clearly heard about the treatment he got in the aftermath of that conference, but it has not affected him in the least.

“It’s not surprising,” he said. “When you are this high of a calibre of player, people tend to look at everything you do. It just comes with the territory.

Asked directly if something like that would keep him from being himself in the future, Leonard quickly brushed that idea away.

“No, why would it?” he asked back. “I don’t see what the problem was.”

Leonard is far more focussed on learning his new teammates and schemes of his new team.

He played his second game with the Raptors last night in Utah. Heading into the game he was quietly pleased with the progress to date.

“It’s been good so far,” he said. “I’m still trying to get in the motion of learning everything that is going on and what they are about. I am just taking it one step at a time and just developing.”

The Raptors are doing their part to make the transition as easy as possible.

“Yeah, everyone has been great,” he said. “Great guys. They welcomed me. They want me to do what I do on the floor. Play the game and have fun.

“I felt good. I’m still learning the system here … where I am going to get my shots,” he said.

His first performance in Vancouver against Portland was on target. 

“Overall, it was a good game. Felt great on the floor. No pain. Just gotta keep moving from there,” he said.

As for handling expectations from outside, Leonard, again predictably, put it like this: “Just worried about my own expectations,” he said.

INSIDE LOOK AT RAPS

Fans can get a peek behind the curtain at the Raptors preparations for the season this Sunday when they hold an open practice including an intra-squad game Sunday at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre. 

The event begins at noon and tickets will be made available Thursday at 1:30 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre Box Office on Carlton Street.

There is a two-ticket limit and the team is requesting a $20 voluntary donation per ticket with all proceeds from the event going to the Ryerson Rams Care-Send Kinds to Camp Campaign. Tickets are limited and will be doled out on a first come, first served basis.

IBAKA LEAVES ‘EM IN STITCHES 

Serge Ibaka’s “How Hungry Are You” is quickly becoming can’t-miss comedy. Things didn’t really start to take off until the fourth episode, when Ibaka had former teammate and Toronto fan-favourite DeMar DeRozan on to eat rice and worms. The comedy went up a notch in the next episode when he invited five members of the Raptors Bench Mob — Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Norm Powell, Pascal Siakam and Delon Wright — in to sample lamb’s brain. Clearly the group had been paying attention to the earlier episodes as they busted on Ibaka for using ‘only salt and pepper’ to augment his dishes. The first three episodes included appearances by former Raptor Bismack Biyombo, Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United and ESPN’s Cari Champion. 

Among those who have been nominated for future episodes by past guests are Drake (via DeMar) and the Raptors management team of president Masai Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster along with head coach Nick Nurse.

Nurse said Tuesday if the invitation is extended he would accept.

Ibaka says he’s enjoying this new venture far more than he ever thought he would. While there is no timetable or schedule set he wants to keep it going through the season as long as it doesn’t interfere with basketball.

Ibaka was asked who is at the top of his list in terms of guests he would like on the show. He had two names: The first was Will Smith. Drake was the second.  

QUICK HITS

Jazz point guard Dante Exum was held out of last night’s game. The Jazz held Joe Ingles out of their first pre-season game, so they are making a conscious effort to handle any returning players who have had issues with kid gloves … Nurse on Delon Wright who was getting a ton of interest here in Utah where he played his college ball. “I would really like to see him pull the trigger more,” Nurse said. “I think teams try to go under him on the screen and roll, I’d like to get him to stop and shoot that thing. We’re trying to get him, when the ball comes around to him in rhythm, to pull it every time. He’s getting used to that.”

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies