Kawhi Leonard played under Gregg Popovich from 2011 to 2018 while a member of the San Antonio Spurs.
Along the way, the pair won one championship together and experienced immense success by any objective measure.
Although Leonard’s relationship with Popovich deteriorated towards the end of their run as members of the Spurs organization, a mutual respect was always there.
Popovich lovingly talking about his favorite “Kawhi moment” illustrates that point perfectly.
“He stole it from Curry the other night, just took it from him and went down and dunked it, and his expression did not change,” Popovich told the San Antonio Express-News.
“He didn’t raise his fist or look cool to the crowd or do any of this stupid-a** stuff. He didn’t do a thing. He just goes the other direction, like he’s bored to death. I love that about him.”
Leonard has never been about looking cool. That wasn’t his bag when he entered the NBA, and it’s not now.
That’s what made his favorite player growing up as a kid so interesting. It serves in such stark contrast to the Kawhi Leonard fans have grown accustomed to watching and rooting for over the past decade.
To each his own, though.
Leonard is gearing up for an immensely important 2022-23 NBA season. After missing all of last year with an injury, he has something to prove.
Kawhi Leonard 👀
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) August 2, 2022
Incredible Hulk-type stuff.
Will this be the year Leonard returns to the sort of form he was in back in the day when he was teamed up with Popovich?
Time will tell.