The Athletic didn’t hold back when detailing why the LA Clippers flopped, explaining the special treatment of former San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard.
Sometimes, you just have to sit back and say, “I told you so.” The San Antonio Spurs themselves have been a class act throughout the fallout with their disgruntled former Finals MVP, but that doesn’t mean their fans can’t revel in being right all along. A recent article for The Athletic pulled no punches when describing how difficult Kawhi Leonard made it for the LA Clippers to accommodate him while maintaining team chemistry.
Jovan Buha’s exposé (subscription required), released Wednesday morning, gives a full account of everything the Clippers had to do to satisfy Leonard throughout last season, which ultimately led to their 3-1 collapse against the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs.
In the article, Buha talks about the team’s training staff having to prepare a private space for Leonard’s pregame routine, which often ended up being the female staffers’ locker room on the road.
“It was an awkward arrangement, but drawing too much attention to it risked being seen as going against Leonard,” writes Buha.
It became a running theme to let Kawhi and Paul George receive treatment above and beyond what should reasonably be expected to appease them. One team source reportedly stated outright: “We’re doomed. Kawhi wants too much special treatment.”
As time wore on and the two new additions to the team kept demanding more and more, the team’s culture and chemistry took hits, turning a contender into a pretender in the postseason. Buha then gives a bullet-by-bullet breakdown of some of the perks Leonard and George enjoyed that rubbed the rest of the team the wrong way.
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Among other things, Leonard and George reportedly had control over the team’s travel schedule and could choose when they did and didn’t play.
Kawhi also was allowed to live and commute from San Diego, often resulting in him showing up late as the team was getting ready to travel.
The behavior by Leonard and his camp may be a bit of a surprise to general NBA fans, but Spurs fans know better.
Kawhi didn’t demonstrate these kinds of “above the team” antics in San Antonio, but there were signs that his uncle and others in his crew were getting in his head toward the end of his time with the Spurs.
Ultimately, his desire to play in Los Angeles led to a bitter departure from the Alamo City, with many in media circles blaming the Spurs for how they handled Kawhi’s injury situation.
Since then, there have been reports of Leonard’s representatives requesting illegal perks from the Lakers during free agency and now a detailed account of his diva-like expectations with the Clippers.
Given that it’s been two full seasons since Leonard suited up in Silver and Black, this isn’t about missing the good old days when Kawhi was quietly doing his thing. Most Spurs fans are over that. It’s just interesting to see story after story come out about the destructive nature of Leonard’s expectations since he decided to leave San Antonio and Toronto.
With a season looming soon after a crushing playoff collapse, I’m curious to see if Kawhi can keep his ego in check after getting special treatment in Los Angeles. If not, he may find himself wanting to move on once again soon.