According to Spurs caoch Gregg Popovich, if the AT&T Center were completely empty when Kawhi Leonard was playing, “he’d probably like it a lot more.”
“Klaw” Leonard is zero fluff, zero muss and opponents must pay attention to him when he’s on the court because everywhere they turn, he’s right there, cornrows smartly shaped to his head, shadowing his opponent on offense like they’re playing basketball in a mirror. He’s also a self-contained readymade piece of art that Gregg Popvich and San Antonio actually sculpted themselves, without a single angle or muscle sinew wasted. A perfectly balanced, basketball cyborg that fits the Spurs Borg like the perfect cog in the machine.
The Lee Jenkins feature for the newest issue of Sports Illustrated includes a smattering of Kawhi praise, like the above quip from Popovich, but the comments also include makes him so unusual on the superstar tier he’s reached this season. The only #brand Kawhi knows about is Spurs kind, and that’s why teammate David West says Klaw is “Tim Duncan 2.0.”
West isn’t the only one who spoke to Jenkins about Leonard for the piece. Popovich has the best remarks about his all-world hybrid forward with the tentacles as arms and hands usually only seen on a giant.
Popovich said Leonard was “as serious as a heart attack” when he first met him after the Spurs traded point guard George Hill for him when he was selected by the Pacers with the No. 15 pick in the draft. About that trade, Popovich admits to SI he was “scared shitless.
“We don’t know this kid. He’s not a shooter. He’s not a scorer. He’s not a perimeter player. He’s a big guy who can rebound.” That’s why we say the Spurs created him in a lab.