Don't Even Think About Telling Gregg Popovich That Kawhi Leonard Was A Leader

Los Angeles Clippers  v San Antonio Spurs

[ESPN] – Before Saturday night’s game at Milwaukee, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked about the importance of point guard Patty Mills’ leadership in the wake of Manu Ginobili’s retirement and Kawhi Leonard’s trade to Toronto, and he provided a blunt assessment of the latter.

“Kawhi was a great player, but he wasn’t a leader or anything,” Popovich told reporters of Leonard, the 2014 NBA Finals MVP and two-time Defensive Player of the Year. “Manu and Patty were the leaders. Kawhi’s talent will always be missed, but that leadership wasn’t his deal at that time. That may come as he progresses, but Manu and Patty filled that role last year, and LaMarcus [Aldridge] came a long way in that regard also.”

You know what? I’ll say it. Good for Pop. We hear all the time about how the NBA is too soft right now and how there are no real rivalries. Well, I appreciate Pop trying to turn the Spurs/Raptors into one. I mean might as well get weird with it and have the most random rivalry in the NBA.

But, here’s the thing. Pop also isn’t necessarily wrong. I mean he talks about how Kawhi’s talent will always be missed but that doesn’t necessarily mean Kawhi was a leader. Look at what happened during last year’s playoffs. I’m not sure if that could have been handled worse from both sides – especially Kawhi.

I can’t wait to see Kawhi return to San Antonio on January 3rd.