As expected, the situation between Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs has begun to trickle out.
As more and more updates continue to come out, more pieces of this already complicated puzzle are finally coming together. Though, this most recent puzzle piece may be the biggest one yet.
Forget injury disagreements or disliking toward Pop, this whole thing may have stemmed from jealousy. A report from Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News , as well as an appearance by ESPN Spurs reporter Michael C. Wright on Zach Lowe of ESPN’s podcast, explains how the 2016 All-Star weekend was truly the beginning of the end.
“Leonard and his traveling companions noticed other All-Stars — notably Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook — were using private luxury cars to get around, instead of the standard transportation provided by the NBA. They wanted the star treatment, too.”
Zach Lowe added this on his podcast:
“I heard similar noise from other teams, not the Raptors, that were in and around the Kawhi trade discussions … that this was an issue that was brought up … There are ways that franchises are supposed to treat superstars … and the Spurs just, they don’t do that. That’s Tim Duncan, that’s the Spurs, that’s how they operate, and that annoyed him.”
Although it was noted that the team likely would have honored his “superstar” treatment request had Kawhi spoken up about it:
“This comes down to what the issue has always been between the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard, that’s communication,” Wright said. “You know it’s hard to get Kawhi to say three words to you. So I’m sure if Kawhi would have said ‘Hey, I want a Bentley’ or ‘I want this’ or whatever, I’m sure the Spurs would have done everything in their power to make that happen for him.”
The “Spurs-way” has always involved players giving up the spotlight to become a part of the team culture. Players had to think less of themselves, and were treated like ordinary guys… even stars like Kawhi, who are amongst the top players in the NBA.
Obviously, that has an effect on those stars. Guys like Tim Duncan were able to buy in because being flashy and important was never a part of his DNA. For Kawhi, he wants to be treated with a certain degree of care. While there’s nothing wrong with that, he would likely never find that type of treatment in San Antonio.
Looks like things were a problem long before the 2017/18 season.