Kawhi Leonard: Who Is “The Claw”?
Averaging 15.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 2.0 SPG, with a ring and a championship MVP already on his resume, to say that Kawhi Leonard was a bargain with the 15th pick in the 2011 NBA draft is an understatement. Aside from his defensive presence and relentless motor on both sides of the ball, Leonard’s stoic demeanor has always been a topic of discussion when explaining who the 4-year player out of San Diego State is. SLAM Magazine’s Chris Palmer provides a comprehensive overview of why the Spurs are the perfect fit, as well as who the man behind “The Claw” really is in his piece titled, “Echoes Of Silence.”
Palmer describes the San Antonio Spurs locker room as unusually quiet. He mentions Tim Duncan staring “directly at the floor as if the carpet holds some key to life,” and how an entire locker room full of fifteen teammates was dead silent until Coach Popovich stepped in to penetrate the calm. It is perhaps the stillness of the quiet that prepares Leonard for optimal performance in an environment that is destined to help his career prosper.
As intriguing as it is that someone of Leonard’s talent seems so introverted, unemotional, and humble, he proposes to be nothing more than someone who loves to play the game we enjoy watching so much. “All he does is think about basketball. Nothing else seems to interest him,” says all-star teammate Tony Parker. And if you’ve ever had a chance to witness his relentless play on the hardwood then you’d recognize why TP’s statement holds true.
Leonard is coming off a hand injury that Coach Pop claimed, “One of the doctors said he’s been doing hands for 40 years and it’s the first time he’s ever seen this injury.” In his return, Kawhi didn’t miss a beat scoring 20 points while grabbing 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals. It’s been a long road for the defending champion, having lost his father in a tragic shooting during his senior year of high school. Still, it appears Leonard has no need for the glamour that is inevitable with being an NBA star. For now he’ll let his game do the talking.