‘I wanted to pay tribute’: Raptors fan immortalizes Kawhi Leonard’s iconic buzzer-beater with a tattoo

Ian Maningas has been a fan of the Toronto Raptors his whole life — and after Kawhi Leonard’s miraculous buzzer-beating shot sent the whole city into rapture last Sunday, he wanted to remember it forever.

“Being a Raptors fan, it’s been years of misery and heartbreak, missed shots or missed opportunities,” Maningas told Cross Country Checkup. “We finally had something fall our way and I wanted to pay tribute to that.”

After what is now being called simply “The Shot,” basketball fans across Canada have caught Raptors fever. But few have gone quite as far as Maningas, 29, who immortalized Leonard’s incredible shot with a tattoo.

The tattoo depicts Leonard crouched on the court, watching the ball as it bounced on the rim four times before finally dropping in — giving the Raptors a 92-90 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7.

Tattooing this moment on his body was an easy decision for Maningas, the manager of a tattoo studio. (Submitted by Ian Maningas)

Maningas was overjoyed, saying he’s too young to have experienced the joy of the Toronto Blue Jays’ World Series win in 1992.

“Filipinos love their basketball, so I’ve been playing and watching since I was a kid,” said Maningas.

As the manager of a Toronto tattoo parlour, he says it was natural for him to consider a tattoo of the moment.

When Maningas suggested it, Anbu Tattoo Studio owner and tattoo artist Kristian Tabungar enthusiastically took on the task. The tattoo — located on Maningas’s lower leg — took about nine hours to complete.

Pictures of the piece posted on the studio’s social media channels quickly went viral, spawning a range of reactions online.

“People have asked, ‘What if Kawai leaves? What if we lose four games in a row to the [Milwaukee] Bucks?’ That doesn’t matter … it’s just one moment that we finally had something happy,” Maningas said.

Ian Maningas, left, is pictured with tattoo artist and owner of Anbu Tattoo Studio, Kristian Tabungar, right. (Submitted by Ian Maningas)

While Leonard’s performance in the playoffs has solidified his star status in Toronto, he is also heading into free agency, which means he may no longer be playing for the Raptors next season.

That doesn’t bother Maningas.

“At the end of the day, he’s going to do what’s best for himself and I’m always going to appreciate this moment,” he said.

“If he did depart from Toronto, he left us with something that we’d never experienced before.”

Read more at CBC.ca