Kawhi Leonard has come a long way as a star in the league, but has yet to garner the star treatment other players of his stature receive from officials. In Tim Duncan‘s eyes, it is because he is quiet.
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Leonard this season has turned into the player that Head Coach Gregg Popovich and the rest of the Spurs have known: a star. Being selected to his first All-Star game in his career and winning his second-consecutive Defensive Player of the Year, Leonard is blossoming.
Duncan though stated the reasoning behind Leonard not getting calls like others around the league is because of his quiet nature, per Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News,
“[Kawhi’s] gotten to the point now where people are being a lot more physical with him, but people are still being allowed to get away with a whole lot of stuff,” Duncan said. “That gets him fired up, and rightfully.”
Duncan then continued on to state that the longest conversation that he has had with Leonard is a quarter of a minute, maybe less. “I don’t think it’s ever surpassed 10 or 15 seconds,” Duncan said, explaining that Leonard prefers to do his talking on the hardwood.
The future Hall of Famer spoke on how Leonard is helping the team win games and that it doesn’t matter if you talk or not; you can still earn people’s respect.
“He hasn’t said a whole since he’s been here, but he’s gone out there and put it on the floor and put up the numbers and helped us win games. When you do it like that, you earn people’s respect.”
Leonard is not worried about getting calls from refs or the physical play. In his mind that is not what he is playing the game for. “I don’t even think about it, really,” Leonard said. “I’m not playing to get fouls.”
That has been the staple of Leonard’s game. Leonard goes out and plays hard on both ends of the floor and it is showing. Leonard helped lead the Spurs to a first-round sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies and now they turn their attention to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Game one of the second-round starts on Saturday in San Antonio at 8:30 PM Central Time.