When it comes to putting the ball in the hoop, Kawhi Leonard is one of the best in the business. The 29-year-old superstar is a 4x All-Star, 4x All-NBA Player, 2x NBA Champion, and one of the best players in the game.
But he isn’t known for his trash talk — an almost artistic form of tongue-lashing meant to distract opponents and get under their skin. Whether you see it as a product of the game or part of a strategy, it’s clear that some people are better at it than others, and Leonard (often dubbed as the “quiet guy”), doesn’t fit the bill as someone who excels in that area.
Interestingly, some of Kawhi’s former teammates and coach from San Diego State went into a bit of detail about what Leonard’s version of trash talking sounded like at the time…
Gay: The most he talked was on the hard court, and Kawhi was not afraid to let you know that you weren’t going to score on him, that you couldn’t get past him or that he would score on you. Every time the ball went through the net, he just said, “Bucket. Bucket.” That was it.
Tyrone Shelley, Guard: Most people say it like, “Oh, I’m about to get buckets on you.” He was just like, “Buckets. Layup.” Just one word.
Shelton: He’d be like, “You’re not scoring. You’re not doing anything.” Or he’d be like, “No, no, no.” He’d just move his feet and say, “No.”
Gay: You couldn’t score on him, so that’s what he would say: “Nope, nope, nope.” And when he would score on you: “Bucket. Bucket.”
LaBradford Franklin, guard: If he was grabbing a rebound, he’d say, “Give me that” or “Board man” or “Board man gets paid.”
Coach Hutson: If I heard it once, I heard it 50 times. “Board man. I’m a board man.” That’s what he said. Absolutely. “I’m a board man. Yeah, I’m a board man. Board man gets paid.” He spoke in phrases like that.
Kawhi is a psychopath. pic.twitter.com/c4ktQokPu5
— ™️Marcus (@TheMisterMarcus) June 4, 2019
When you’re dominating your opponents like Leonard often does, you can say pretty much whatever you want. He has always backed up his words, especially on the defensive end.
It’s more so just kind of entertaining than anything trying to imagine him saying those little one-worders to his opponents as he trots up and down the basketball court.
As a now 9x veteran in the league, Kawhi has shown enough to let his game do the talking at this point — and that might be how he prefers things anyway. He’s known as quiet, reserved, and is one of the few players who almost seems to avoid the spotlight.
Of course, that’s not to say he doesn’t still use his phrases now and then, but he has already more than proven himself as an elite baller and talented leader.