Kawhi Leonard’s rise in the NBA over the last few years has been a sight to behold. Leonard is one of the best 2-way players in the league and is on track to create a legacy that few will be able to tarnish once he walks away from the sport of basketball.
Leonard entered the NBA in 2011. But his shining moment came 3 years after that in 2014. Leonard and the Spurs were taking on the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, a rematch of the previous year’s Finals that Miami had won.
In an effort to shut down the offensive brilliance of LeBron James, Gregg Popovich put Kawhi Leonard on LeBron James. The results were brilliant. While James still put up solid numbers, Kawhi’s defensive work rate kept James from taking over.
The Spurs went on to win the NBA championship, and Leonard was named Finals MVP for his performance during the series, primarily when it came to guarding James. San Antonio felt they had their newest superstar to take over from Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. But that wasn't the case.
In 2018, Leonard got traded to the Toronto Raptors, after demanding to leave San Antonio. In Toronto, Leonard took his game to another level and led the Raptors to the NBA Finals. In the Finals, his performance was pivotal to the Raptors winning the NBA championship.
Leonard left Toronto that summer to join the LA Clippers, a move that would bring him back home to Los Angeles. Kawhi wanted to return to LA for quite some time, wanting to be closer to his family and his hometown. Most recently, Leonard had a basketball court built in his hometown for the community.
Leonard was present at the opening of the Kawhi Leonard Basketball Court at Weston Park. Kawhi spoke passionately about why he wanted to open the court for the community, saying that this was just one of the many steps he would take to look after the community.
“This community means more than just a basketball court. And I’m gonna keep working to … keep putting you on the map. It’s about the kids and the youth; that’s what I’m about. Just making the youth, better, stronger. Just (preparing) them for the outside world. Because once you make it past them mountains, it’s a different story.”
Leonard stayed at the court to take pictures and sign autographs for fans and children for a few hours. Clearly, this project was one of the many reasons he wanted to return home in 2019. And as time goes forward, Leonard will probably do more work to help uplift his community.
Going into the new season, Kawhi will be focused on recovering from his injury to bring more glory to his hometown team, the LA Clippers. Leonard wants to return in time to help the Clippers secure their first NBA championship win in franchise history.