Either due to injury or out of frustration, Kawhi Leonard refused to play for the San Antonio Spurs down the stretch last season, despite his team being in the thick of a tight Western Conference playoff race.
Leonard’s Spurs teammates even held a players-only meeting in which they emplored the star forward to come back and help them try and challenge the Golden State Warriors. But Leonard never returned, electing to stay in New York to rehab his mysterious quadriceps injury instead of helping his team on the court or supporting them on the bench.
It has been reported that Leonard was upset at being publically called out by a few of his teammates, including Tony Parker, but it appears that his animosity might solely have been for the organization.
ESPN’s Michael C. Wright recently went on Zach Lowe’s “The Lowe Post” podcast and revealed what he has heard Leonard told his teammates in the meeting.
“I had heard this, that Kawhi had said something about like, ‘I’ll do anything for all you guys in this room, but not this organization.,'” Wright told Lowe.
There is, of course, two ways to look at this.
Either Leonard, who normally is reserved and soft-spoken, didn’t want to tell his teammates that he didn’t want to go to war with them, or the rift between the star and the Spurs’ brass was much worse than anyone initially knew.
In the wake of Leonard being dealt to the Toronto Raptors, it has been reported that the 2014 NBA Finals MVP first became upset with the team over their handling of his contract following his unbelievable performance against LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the 2014 Finals, and continued to be irked at how the team treated his injury and dealt with his upcoming contract situation.
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