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Gilbert Arenas explains why NBA players do not want to play in Toronto

Gilbert Arenas

Former NBA star Gilbert Arenas explained why Kawhi Leonard chose to leave the NBA champion Toronto Raptors to return to his home in Los Angeles after many people received his exit with a puzzling look.

Arenas had this same conversation on a podcast two months ago with Lou Williams, who won the Sixth Man of the Year award in Toronto, only to leave the following year:

“The Raptors being in Canada is hard for American players,” said Arenas. “Got to remember, most kids are coming from the hood, that ‘this is where my family and friends are.’ So me going all the way to another country, my friends and family can’t get there. That’s our [sic] conflict: my friends, my mom, my day, my brothers and sisters can’t get there often. They can drive to Atlanta, they can drive to Chicago and go and follow me and come to all my games.

“So when someone like Kawhi is a free agent and you’re like, ‘Well why would he leave? He just won a championship.’ Well, that’s exactly why he’s leaving; he’s already won two championships. What is he playing for now? Maybe he wants to play 41 home games in front of his mother for the first time in his career. That’s important. It’s the little things, not the money. Got to remember we have the money; it’s the little things that count. I want my mom to be able to come to the games and sit here; I can spend time with her. I can start a family here. It’s just the little things sometimes when a player gets into Year 5, 6, 7, 8.”

Leonard had already shown signs of being homesick during the end of his tenure with the San Antonio Spurs, and that was only a long drive away from Southern California. But he appeared determined to land back in his home in Los Angeles, and he did just that when he got his first chance as a free agent.