The San Antonio Spurs fell into an 0-2 hole in their first-round NBA playoff series with the Golden State Warriors on Monday night and their prospects of making it a series without star Kawhi Leonard appear slim.
Leonard has missed all but nine games this season as he tries to rehab a mysterious right quadriceps injury, and the 2014 NBA Finals MVP reportedly is at odds with the franchise and will sit out for the remainder of the season.
Following San Antonio’s 116-101 loss at Oracle Arena in Game 2, head coach Gregg Popovich was asked about his other star, LaMarcus Aldridge, and how he has performed this season.
Popovich, who never is one to mince words, praised his power forward while appearing to send a message to Leonard, who remains in New York instead of with the team.
“LaMarcus has been a monster all year long,” Popovich said. “He’s led our team at both ends of the floor. He doesn’t complain about a darn thing out on the court, he just plays through everything. I can’t imagine being more proud of a player as far as playing through adversity and being there for his teammates night after night after night. He’s been fantastic.”
After reportedly demanding a trade in the offseason, Aldridge and Popovich have buried the hatchet and the star forward has had his most productive season as a member of the Spurs to date.
Perhaps Popovich is hoping Leonard hears him and decides to follow in his teammate’s footsteps and make it work in San Antonio, hopefully in time to help his team combat the defending NBA champions.
Then again, there’s always the chance that Popovich just is lauding the year Aldridge has had, but that seems unlikely.