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Steve Aoki’s Venice Pizzeria Unveils Mural With Kawhi Leonard as LA Laker

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Gustavo Zermeño Jr. painted the mural at Pizzaoki on the Venice boardwalk

Toronto Raptors Victory Parade & Rally Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Chatter around the NBA’s offseason is buzzing, especially for Lakers fans. Superstar Anthony Davis becomes a Laker as soon as this weekend, but the attention is on Kawhi Leonard. Leonard is fresh off a second NBA championship win for the Toronto Raptors, and the question of the post-season is: which team will snag the free-agent and LA-native? Just to make sure Leonard feels appreciated, an LA muralist painted a massive mural of Kawhi at Pizzaoki in Venice.

It’s wishful-thinking by local artist Gustavo Zermeño Jr. In the mural, Leonard dons a Lakers jersey while lifting the NBA championship trophy with the words “Kawhi not” painted above the player’s head. Yahoo Sports eyeballed the mural that’s stationed on the side of Steve Aoki’s Pizzaoki right on the Venice boardwalk. The gesture is premature, as no one knows if Leonard will leave the Raptors for another team.

The mural attracted lots of attention in LA and the sports world. The visual of Leonard in yellow and purple netted an Instagram “Like” from current Laker LeBron James, according to Laker’s Empire on Twitter.

Leonard helped to different teams win NBA championships. His first was with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014, and less than a month ago in Toronto. Aoki also promised to provide pizzas for life for Leonard, but only if he makes it official in LA.

LA’s penchant for murals and sports figures is a welcome one. Just above Baby Blues BBQ is a larger-than-life mural of Dodger Justin Turner by artist Jonas Never. And last year across town, a Lakers fan defaced Never’s LeBron James’ mural, right after the mega NBA star was signed to the team.

Kawhi Leonard Pizzaoki
Steve Aoki’s Instagram
Screengrab Instagram