The Kawhi Leonard era in San Antonio is officially over, as he is thriving in Toronto with the Raptors and away from the drama concerning the Spurs.
It seems like there’s still some salt from the side of Coach Gregg Popovich, who happened to speak on his former player and his leadership skills. Apparently, he wasn’t a leader in the S.A. locker room, but rather Manu Ginobli and Patty Mills were. At least last season.
Coach Pop said:
“Kawhi was a great player, but he wasn’t a leader or anything. Manu and Patty were the leaders. Kawhi’s talent will always be missed, but that leadership wasn’t his deal at that time. That may come as he progresses, but Manu and Patty filled that role last year, and LaMarcus [Aldridge] came a long way in that regard also.”
Of course, Leonard heard the comments and responded:
“I heard about it. It’s just funny to me because, you know, I don’t know if he’s talking about last year or not, but I guess when you stop playing they forget how you lead. Other than that, it doesn’t matter. I’m here with the Raptors. My focus is on the season and not what’s going on the other side.
I lead by example coming into practice every day. Just going hard and coming into these games mentally focused. You can’t see things once you’re playing on the floor. Guys ask me questions about their matchup or if I see something on the floor, I’m telling guys, ‘Go here, go there,’ just motivating people, do you know what I mean? I’m just trying to lift people’s spirits up, that’s about it. Don’t try to get anybody too down, just lift them up.”
It’ll be interesting to see how both sides react to each other when Kawhi and the Raptors head to San Antonio to face the Spurs on January 3. The tensions will be high.
These won’t be the last shots they throw at each other either.