Kawhi Leonard is the NBA’s most stoic star. The Spurs forward has become a perennial MVP and Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and while his skills on the court are undeniable, he has almost a non-existent personality off of it, at least publicly.
A recent photo of Kawhi smiling while hanging out with 2 Chainz led us to trying to figure out the quiet star’s favorite things based off the few pictures of him smiling we could find. Leonard’s demeanor stateside tends to be less than enthusiastic, but the moment he arrived in China on a trip serving as an NBA ambassador, he suddenly couldn’t stop smiling.
Every picture coming from Leonard’s trip over the first 24 hours he was in China was of him smiling, which is a significant departure from the Leonard we’ve come to know in his time in San Antonio. I mean, just look at this. I have never once seen Kawhi, even in his rare smiles on or near a basketball court, looking this genuinely happy.
And here’s him smiling and goofing off by mimicking a poster of himself.
And here’s him smiling while hanging out at a media roundtable.
And here he is laughing heartily at something while at the Great Wall.
At first, I wondered if I was wrong for my perception of Kawhi and thought that maybe he just never showed this side publicly and that, in private, this was the real Kawhi Leonard. However, it would appear that I (and likely you) are not alone in thinking smiling Kawhi is a strange sight, as his long-time teammate Manu Ginobili has some questions as well.
This makes me feel better that even Ginobili can’t believe what he’s seeing with all these pictures of Leonard cheesing it up in China. Maybe Leonard just loves the food over there and it makes him feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside, but whatever it is, China agrees with Kawhi and it’s kind of freaking everyone out.