After becoming a back-to-back winner of Defensive Player of the Year on Monday, we were curious to hear what Kawhi Leonard would say when the inevitable glare coming from the announcement foisted a microphone in his face. This is a guy who would rather play basketball in an arena empty of spectators, so any commendations for his two-way exploits, or his defensive acumen, were parried quickly grace. The Book of Klaw will not allow gloating.
So it wasn’t any surprise when he thanked his teammates first when accepting the award.
“Most importantly, I want to thank my teammates,” Leonard said, by way of NBA.com. “I felt like we all did a great job this year going in each and every game, being focused and striving to stop the other team.”
He then spent time extolling Duncan and Aldridge, the big men who protect the basket behind him.
…Leonard spent the bulk of his time on Monday explaining the importance of teammates such as Tim Duncan on the ability for Leonard to execute his defensive gameplay…
“I just hide behind them in the game, really,” Leonard said. “They give me to confidence to pressure my man and get to the ball-handler. The bigs are there on the help side if the guy goes by me, and I’m able to switch to the other offensive players and allow the other guards to guard the best offensive player. Having the confidence in me makes me want to strive harder and be the best basketball player that I can be.”
You could almost feel head coach Gregg Popovich’s pride when he complimented his All-Star and 2016 Defensive Player of the Year.
“He’s giving credit to everybody as he should, he’s a wonderful young man,” Popovich said. “But the things he does amaze me night after night…He’s a pretty special guy.”
He really is.