Maybe Kawhi Leonard isn’t a huge villain afterall.
The Toronto Raptors’ new forward played only nine games last season for the San Antonio Spurs while dealing with a mysterious quad injury that he felt he needed outside help to rehabilitate. Leonard had been rehabbing with the Spurs’ medical staff, but then opted to get a second opinion and ultimately left the team to work with specialists.
This decision at least contributed to the tension between Leonard and the Spurs, as the star forward eventually asked for a trade and was dealt to the Raptors along with Danny Green this offseason.
While some people have criticized Leonard for quitting on the Spurs, Green offered a story about the Spurs’ medical staff on the first episode of “The Green Room with Danny Green” podcast that defends Leonard’s decision to seek outside medical help while also supporting San Antonio’s staff. Green noted he suffered a strained groin during a December game against the Boston Celtics, and once he rehabbed, the staff monitored it but did not revisit it. Green found out after the season that along with the strain he also had a small tear, but noted the staff always did a good job with him.
From Green’s podcast:
“So throughout the season we’ve monitored it, but we never went back to check on it again, because so many other injuries have happened. And I could have gotten a second opinion, so I see where Kawhi is coming from when he got his second opinion. Because a lot of times, you’ll get information from outside sources, and not saying the Spurs staff is not up to par, it’s just not everybody is a specialist in every area. So it’s not like they’re a specialist in the groin area or a sports hernia, maybe. So to go to a guy who may be in Philly to get a second opinion shouldn’t hurt.
So end of the season, come to find out, it could have happened that day or the playoff series against Golden State, we don’t know, but to end the season I had to get another MRI, because you get an exit physical. The strain was still there with a little tear. So since then I’ve been rehabbing it basically, and now they’re passing my information on to Toronto. But we don’t know how long I’ve been playing with this strain, or how long ago the tear happened, because we hadn’t really circled back or focused on it that much because of some of the other injuries that were happening throughout the season, whether it was an Achilles, dislocated finger, I had stitches in my face.
A second opinion could have helped, but (the Spurs) did a great job. They did everything they could. But I think it would have been nice to see a specialist, just to see if there was another angle, another view. So just because Kawhi got a second opinion, you can’t knock him for that. Everybody should get a second opinion just to see another perspective.”
Green notes that he is unsure whether he initially suffered a torn groin or if it happened after he returned to rehab, but his overall point was not to blast the Spurs’ staff, but to give credit to Leonard for seeking a second opinion from specialists.
Thumbnail photo via Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports Images