Masai Ujiri and Kawhi Leonard formed a brief but very fruitful partnership together in 2018.
When Leonard found himself on the outs with the San Antonio Spurs, he demanded a trade. The organization ultimately obliged, sending him to the Toronto Raptors along with Danny Green in return for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-rounder.
Leonard went on to lead Ujiri’s Raptors to an NBA Championship in 2019, before leaving to join the Los Angeles Clippers.
During the NBA Bubble this past year, Ujiri accidentally attained some degree of revenge on his former player for ditching his team after just one season.
The lesson here: actions have consequences. https://t.co/aVhdqhCxfN
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 27, 2020
“Every day at 5 a.m., inside room 950 in the Gran Destino (where all the top-seeded teams stayed), Masai Ujiri would wake up, read his book, hop on the Peloton, and work out before heading down for breakfast,” Taylor Rooks reported for GQ.
“He thought nothing of his daily ritual until one morning, several weeks into the bubble, when he got a text from another former player of his: ‘Morning boss, you good up there?’
“The text was from Kawhi Leonard—Finals MVP with the Raptors, now a star on the Clippers—who was staying in room 850, directly below his old boss. Ujiri had been waking Kawhi up with his noisy workouts for weeks, but Kawhi was reluctant to say anything,” the report continued.
Things are getting interesting in D.C. https://t.co/HDttOQbckG
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 26, 2020
“Ujiri told Kawhi that he would stop for the time being and joked that he would continue again when the Raptors met the Clippers in the Finals, messing with Kawhi’s sleep.
“Kawhi responded with the kind of trash talk that’s best read aloud in Kawhi’s dry monotone: ‘Haha, you know the saying ‘Don’t poke the bear’? I’m gonna call the NBA on you…get you out the bubble.’”
Ultimately neither Ujiri’s Raptors nor Leonard’s Clippers were able to win the NBA title this past year, so there is a decent case to be made they probably should have just continued to work together instead of going their separate ways.
That being said, it’s nice to see that their relationship is still positive enough to the point where they can joke about something like this.