San Antonio Spurs News

Unearthing a Kawhi Leonard quote from the archives

By Rob Wolkenbrod
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 30: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Detroit Pistons on December 30, 2017 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 30: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Detroit Pistons on December 30, 2017 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The report ESPN dropped Tuesday on Kawhi Leonard brought a new quote to the forefront, from the San Antonio Spurs star himself.

Amidst this Kawhi Leonard saga with the San Antonio Spurs, the man himself has said few words, none of which was anything to harp on or analyze. Otherwise, the silence, and the loud reports on Leonard’s fractured relationship with the organization, consumed this situation over the past three-plus months.

On Tuesday, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Michael C. Wright released an extensive report on Leonard’s situation with the Spurs, how it possibly started in 2016, the agent change and the influence of the “group.” It’s a lot to unpack, including the thoughts inside the Spurs organization that the 26-year-old star’s aforementioned “group” might seek a trade to a top market. 

However, lost in the shuffle was a quote from Leonard. ESPN asked him for the “simplest explanation to this situation” during a Mar. 21 game against the Washington Wizards:

Leonard nodded, then said, “I mean, why else would I not be playing?”

“People are just looking for spin,” Leonard continued. “I haven’t been here long. I’ve been here six years. The Spurs have been here way longer than that. People are gonna go with that take first.”

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There lies the potential in unraveling this mystery that surrounded the organization for most of the season. However, a Spurs communications staffer “abruptly ended the conversation” upon seeing Leonard talking to a reporter. As noted in the report, it was the last time he publicly appeared at a Spurs game, and subsequent follow-ups for interviews were declined or not responded to.

So, what is there to make of this? Let’s take a look:

  • Leonard makes a rare comment about his status.
  • Leonard believes everyone was looking to spin his situation.
  • Leonard knows everyone will side with the Spurs before his angle, whatever that may be.

Basically, it’s three — technically two — facts to add to the equation. That’s a rare feat in this storyline, and it comes from the player himself.

Is there something to a Spurs staffer removing Leonard from the media eye? Sure, but the organization has kept a low profile publicly for years. It’s why these sagas never happen, unlike, for example, LeBron James’s status with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010 and right now. The same with Carmelo Anthony’s battle with the New York Knicks in 2017.

That’s not all from the report, though. Mitch Frankel, Leonard’s agent, spoke on the comparison to Tony Parker’s quad injury, the “100 times worse” one:

“I don’t think Kawhi and Tony Parker have the same injury,” Frankel said. “That’s clear, number one. I mean, that’s crystal clear. Number two, I think the Spurs and Kawhi and Kawhi’s doctors and everyone around Kawhi is just trying to get him healthy, jointly. It’s not as simple as what’s being written, so it’s really just that he’s gotta get his quad healthy. He’s gotta get his tendon healthy, and that’s the focus.”

A collaborated effort goes back to Shams Charania of Yahoo’s report. 

Video Essay on Kawhi Leonard and why the San Antonio Spurs star remains sidelined: pic.twitter.com/KAT0UWBXtI

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 16, 2018

Yet, this was preceded by Shelburne and Wright’s mention that the Spurs have “frustration” on losing control of the medical situation.

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Whatever you want to make from this, these are some of the facts presented in the ESPN piece. Leonard finally spoke, the team pulled him away, and Frankel feels it’s a joint effort. Now, let’s see where this goes next.

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