Could Kawhi get buckets on Kawhi?
I came across this commercial over the weekend while scrolling through Twitter. I thought it was brilliant and it made me think about the NBA and its players I am most excited to watch over the next few years.
Kawhi Leonard was in the MVP conversation again this season as he has been in the past. He’s been the Defensive Player of the Year twice and has been the driving force behind the success of an aging San Antonio Spurs team for the past three years. A team that is always relevant in the NBA which is more than maybe any other team can actually claim.
His numbers only continue to improve. On top of that, the Spurs’ performance in the Western Conference Finals this season after Kawhi Leonard went down in Game 1 was all the evidence needed to prove that he IS the Spurs and one of the best players in the NBA today.
He is without a doubt one of a short list of players that excites me the most as a basketball fan right now. For me it’s not just about his offensive skill set (which so many people believed had little upside when he came into the league in 2011 – boy were they wrong) or his defense. It’s both of those components combined with how he carries himself.
He’s a blue collar, bring your lunch pail to work, do the dirty work, keep your mouth shut kind of guy in a world of professional sports where players are increasingly focused on developing their “brands” via social media, television, music and movies.
There are sunglasses and clothing lines, EPs being dropped, cameos in movies and countless commercials.
Kawhi isn’t about that life. Take the Jordan commercial as a prime example. It’s about him but he’s nowhere in it. He just doesn’t strike me as a guy (like his former teammate Tim Duncan) that wants anything to do with exterior distractions.
He’s about ball. Basketball IS life for Leonard.
As messed up as it sounds, it’s because of his hermit mentality that I seriously question whether or not Kawhi Leonard will ever be named the MVP of the NBA. He has the potential. He has all the tools in his tool box. But he doesn’t have the one thing all the other names frequently mentioned in those conversations (LeBron, Harden, Curry, Westbrook, etc.) have…the personality.
Even Tim Duncan who very much has a hermit-ish mentality was still entertaining in his own way by showing off his sense of humor in post game interviews and media availabilities.
Because of that fact alone, I don’t know if Kawhi Leonard will ever win MVP. I hope I’m wrong but if it turns out I’m right I truly doubt that Kawhi Leonard gives a damn about accolades and awards. No. I think the only thing Kawhi cares about is winning. And those are the types of players you want on your team. Those are the types of players you build franchises around.