Kawhi Leonard, the prodigy of San Diego State who was welcomed by the San Antonio Spurs is not your typical basketball player. Drafted by the Indiana Pacers as the 15th overall pick in 2011, Leonard made a name for himself as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. Originally scouted as a one-dimensional player, Kawhi expanded his game with the tutelage of head coach Gregg Popovich. Coach Pop is regarded as a basketball savant and is responsible for developing the monster which is Kawhi Leonard.

The beginning of the end

When Tim Duncan announced his retirement, it was clear that Kawhi Leonard would be the successor of the Spurs.

He was more than ready to lead the team until he got injured during the playoffs by Zaza Pachulia of the Golden State Warriors. Coach Pop was furious at Pachulia on the sidelines and after the game, he chimed on about the reputation of Zaza as a dirty player. The Spurs lost the series, but more importantly, they lost their superstar in Kawhi Leonard. The injury that he sustained was so severe he was pulled out of the rest of the playoffs plus a total of 73 regular season games.

On the same note, that was the beginning of the end of Kawhi with the Spurs. For months, stories surrounding Kawhi’s camp and the Spurs organisation have been the headlines of sports news. Apparently, Kawhi’s camp doesn’t trust the Spurs’ doctors thus getting a second opinion from another medical group.

It did rub the Spurs organisation the wrong way and their disagreement was getting out of hand. Tony Parker and other players also commented on the status of Kawhi Leonard which is really weird considering the reputation that the Spurs organisation has.

The mystique of Kawhi Leonard

To be fair, Kawhi Leonard hasn’t really commented or talked about the reason why he left San Antonio.

Yesterday, Coach Pop was asked about Kawhi Leonard. He said, Kawhi was a great player, but he wasn’t a leader. The comment that was made by Coach Pop sent shockwaves across the NBA. On a coaching standpoint, they understood were Pop was coming from, however, various players sided with Kawhi due to many reasons. Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas said it best, there are different kind of leaders, and Kawhi Leonard can be considered as a “leader by example”.

War of words

There’s no question that there’s bad blood brewing between Kawhi Leonard’s camp and the Spurs organisation. This is the very reason why this game is on top of the list this season. Kawhi did comment on the statement of coach Popovich which ignited a player-coach rivalry. The Toronto Raptors are Kawhi’s team right now and as per standings, they are doing great in the Eastern Conference and widely considered as the team to beat in the East.

Compton vs Los Angeles

Consequently, DeMar DeRozan who was the franchise player of the Toronto Raptors will also play against his former team. DeRozan and Lowry are best friends on and off the court. It would be very interesting to see how things pan out between them. The native of Compton, California has already adjusted to the “beautiful game” and in six weeks, we will see which of the teams will prevail.