Kawhi Leonard played for the San Antonio Spurs between 2011 and 2018. In that time he won one NBA Championship and one NBA Finals MVP.
Unfortunately, despite clearly being groomed to be the successor to the Tim Duncan Dynasty, Leonard abruptly decided to exit San Antonio in 2018. He ultimately forced a trade to the Toronto Raptors, before leaving them in free agency and joining the Los Angeles Clippers.
This week LaMarcus Aldridge appeared on the ‘All The Smoke’ podcast and revealed what really caused the divorce between Leonard and Popovich.
Why did Kawhi want out of San Antonio?
LaMarcus Aldridge and Stak give their perspective as former members of the Spurs organization.
— SHOWTIME Basketball (@shobasketball) December 28, 2023
“When somebody’s ready to go, they ready to go,” he said.
“Even when you’re there, certain s**t is never told to everybody, some s**t stays behind closed doors. S**t was going back and forth with them but we didn’t know what was going on.”
Stephen Jackson, who also played in San Antonio, also offered his thoughts on what went wrong with Leonard and the Spurs.
“You got to be a strong-willed and a strong-minded brother to make it on the San Antonio Spurs,” he said.
“Pop is going to test you. Me and Kawhi couldn’t take that sh*t. We wanted to hoop, we didn’t want to be in the corner… and that was Kawhi’s attitude. He wanted to hoop, and when the injury stuff came down how they didn’t fight for him.”
Not all teams are meant for all players, and certain ways of coaching work better on some talents rather than others.
Influencer Natalie Reynolds Refuses To Wear Pants In Gym, Goes Viral (Video): https://t.co/OErmsaJFiD
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 28, 2023
Clearly Popovich and Leonard just didn’t mix – particularly as the latter moved forward in his career.
The divide was apparent enough for people around them, like Aldridge and Jackson, to see it.
That said, clearly Leonard still has a ton of love for Popovich and a huge amount of respect for the Spurs as a whole.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.