The rift between Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs may have started well before his mysterious quad injury, and it may have even began in the city he ultimately was traded to.
During the 2016 NBA All-Star weekend in Toronto, Leonard reportedly was upset with how other players were being treated, specifically Russell Westbrook, according to the San Antonio Express News’ Jeff McDonald.
“Leonard and his traveling companions noticed other All-Stars — notably Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook — were using private luxury cars to get around, instead of the standard transportation provided by the NBA,” McDonald wrote. “They wanted the star treatment, too.”
But ESPN’s Michael C. Wright said this all could have been avoided had Leonard just said he wanted one of the luxury cars for the weekend.
“This comes down to what the issue has always been between the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard, that’s communication,” Wright said during an appearance on ESPN’s Zach Lowe’s podcast. “You know, it’s hard to get Kawhi to say three words to you. So I’m sure if Kawhi would have said, ‘Hey, I want a Bentley,’ or ‘I want this,’ or whatever, the Spurs would have done everything in their power to make that happen for him.”
So maybe Leonard’s quad injury, which caused him to be sidelined most of last season, and its handling only continued to distance him from the Spurs.
While we likely will never know, Wright has a theory.
“One thing I say when I discuss the whole Kawhi situation is that it’s like one day Kawhi woke up and realized he was a superstar in this league,” he said. “Then you saw all the problems start.”
It certainly adds up.
It will be interesting to see if Leonard brings any problems to the Toronto Raptors in the upcoming season, or if he will play like the superstar he is in order to get a max contract next season.
Thumbnail photo via Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports Images