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Kawhi Life: Party like it’s 2018 in Toronto

The end of the calendar year finds Kawhi Leonard in a whole new city. What will the new year bring? We’ll find out soon enough.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard is a Toronto Raptor — for at least one year. While the team’s on-court success has its part to play, we’ve decided to do our part in selling the city to the Klaw. Each week we’re talking Toronto, and letting Kawhi know what his life could be like here.

This Week in Toronto

Before we get carried away here, I understand that New Year’s Eve, and the attendant pressure to make something of the night, means wildly different things to different people. In Toronto, the evening is particularly complicated. First, in trying to find a good party to go to; second, in figuring out how to get there (and how to leave!); and third, in just straight up managing the crowds. As someone who has tried his hand at various NYE ideas, it doesn’t necessarily get easier to plan.

The first problem is a matter of choice. Toronto boasts a bevy of jams spread out across various areas of the city. (Don’t take my word for it, just check the Blog TO events page for the night.) The so-called club district of downtown is mostly gone, but that doesn’t stop every event space, club, and bar from trying to get in on the action. Some of this means you have to plan ahead and buy a ticket to these parties, and some of it means you just need to show up hella early in order to stake a claim to a table, or a standing spot on the floor. If this stresses you out, New Year’s Eve in Toronto may not be for you. (And believe me, I understand.)

The second issue is, as always, transportation. On the plus side, the TTC makes transit free on the night (from 7pm to 7am), and extends their subway hours of operation until 4am. This is a boon for anyone coming from slightly further away, and a great deal for those who want to bounce from place to place in the endless search to find a good time. The negative side, meanwhile, is when people just have to drive — which is where the trouble starts. We won’t even address Uber in this space (because you shouldn’t use Uber), but the taxi cab system is also not immune to the surge in demand. It can be tough to find a cab on New Year’s Eve in Toronto, and tougher still to get it to take you further afield than the downtown core. It’s not fair (or fare?), but that’s often the situation.

Both of these come together for that third issue. There are just a lot of people out and about with the same idea as you — they want to get a seat at that good table, a spot by the bar, a place in that cab, etc. It can all be a tad overwhelming, even more so as you get older and the party scene appears to hold less and less for you specifically. I’d love to hear what each of you does now (particularly our readers based in Toronto). Me personally, I’ve found a nice equilibrium with a good house party, but I understand both the quest for the ultimate NYE experience, and also the desire to tunnel even further into seclusion on the night.

There’s no telling exactly what Kawhi Leonard would be interested in for December 31st, 2018, his first spent as a resident of Toronto. But, hmm, something tells me it would not include anything too crazy — like live on-stage karaoke(???). Which brings us to...

Should Kawhi Care?

Well, no.

(But... but... OK, this is the toughest sell we’ve had here so far in the annals of the Kawhi Life column. New Year’s Eve parties are a notoriously tricky proposition for all but the most hale and hardy partygoer. My vote these days go to a well-organized house gathering — just put some friends in the same location, maybe have some food and drink on hand, and enjoy. Every option just feels laborious, am I right?

To that end, it would be considerate of Tim McCready, especially while away at Lee’s Palace, to open his doors at 159 Manning to Kawhi and his family and friends. Someone’s got to put that house to good use on Monday night — and it may as well be Leonard.)