- Recent reports indicate that Kawhi Leonard grew dissatisfied with the San Antonio Spurs in part because he felt he wasn’t getting the appropriate star treatment.
- That appears to stem from Leonard seeing how other stars were treated during the 2016 NBA All-Star weekend, according to the reports.
- Leonard and the Spurs later had a falling out over his quad injury, but the reports suggest there may have been cracks emerging beforehand.
A recent report from Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News and an appearance by ESPN’s San Antonio Spurs reporter, Michael C. Wright, on Zach Lowe’s podcast indicate that there was more to Kawhi Leonard’s mysterious rift with the Spurs than just his injury.
According to McDonald, one of the first changes in Leonard’s relationship with the Spurs came during the 2016 NBA All-Star weekend in Toronto.
“Leonard and his travelling 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,” McDonald wrote.
Addressing that anecdote on his podcast, Lowe said, “I heard similar noise from other teams – not the Raptors – that were in and around the Kawhi trade discussions … that this is an issue that was brought up, that 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.”
Wright confirmed that he had heard that story about the 2016 All-Star game but said the Spurs do take good care of their stars.
“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, the Spurs would have done everything in their power to make that happen for him.”
Of course, at the start of the 2017-18 season, Leonard and the Spurs had a disagreement about his quad injury and how to rehabilitate it. Leonard got a second opinion and began working with his own team, widening the rift between the two sides. From the sounds of it, there may have been small cracks emerging beforehand.
“One thing I say when I discuss the whole Kawhi situation is that it’s like one day Kawhi woke up and realised he was a superstar in this league,” Wright said, adding: “Then you saw all the problems start.”
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