Until the 2014 NBA Finals, casual NBA fans likely knew the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard as much for his almost pathologically measured personality as his rare and developing two-way, on-court influence. Winning Finals MVP changed that, of course, thrusting Leonard from local and niche favorite to nationwide star. Such a rapid ascent to the spotlight would change most 23 year-olds, but not Leonard.
As continuing celebration of their storybook championship season, San Antonio allowed each member of its 2013-2014 roster three days to do whatever he wanted with the Larry O’Brien Trophy this summer. It accompanied Manu Ginobili to family cookout in Argentina, Matt Bonner to a New Hampshire music festival, and Tiago Splitter a 3-on-3 tournament in Brazil. Other Spurs took the trophy on similarly public adventures, and rightfully so – San Antonio’s achievement deserves such ceremony.
Just don’t tell that to Leonard. Staying true to his exceedingly humble and driven nature in the wake of so much success, the Spurs wunderkind simply left the Larry O’Brien Trophy in his apartment upon his turn with the award. As he tells U-T San Diego’s Mark Ziegler in a must-read story, Leonard was too busy getting better to deal with such trivial nonsense.
[Leonard] had it Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and he arranged for people to take pictures with it at his annual skills camp for youths last weekend in his hometown of Moreno Valley.
And Thursday and Friday?
It sat in the living room of the San Diego condominium he rents during the offseason while the Spurs staffer who chaperones the trophy around the world lounged at a UTC hotel pool… while Leonard was at his three-a-day workouts.
“I didn’t have any time to do anything with it,” Leonard explained. “My workout schedule is crazy.”
Translation: He’s not missing a mid-August workout for a season that begins in late October to show off a shiny 2-foot, 14.5-pound trophy with a 24-karat gold overlay.
“I’m just a low-key guy,” he said. “I’m just happy we won it. I don’t even care about the trophy. The title matters the most.”
There’s hardly anything wrong with Leonard’s teammates parading “Larry” around the world on various excursions. We’d surely do the same (if we ever had the chance of winning anything meaningful, that is), and many title-winning players before them have done just that, too.
But that Leonard simply let the trophy sit in his San Diego condo speaks to the young superstar’s ambitions. He doesn’t want or need the glitz of success; just the internal glory that comes with hard work paying off and the satisfaction of winning. And if Leonard’s summer routine is any indication, it seems like San Antonio will be doing much more of it.
Three-a-day workouts. Leonard withdrew from Team USA play this summer to “rest his body” from consecutive seasons played deep into June. So much for downtime.
What would you do with the trophy?
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