Kawhi Leonard's series to remember

His play thrust him into the limelight during these Finals. His turnaround after scoring just nine points in each of the first two games mirrored the Spurs turnaround in the final three games, which they won by an average of 19 points. Leonard was awesome in the three wins, averaging 23.7 points and 9.3 rebounds. When the Spurs needed a lift, he gave it to them. Whether it was a dagger 3-pointer, a rim-rattling dunk, or a defensive stop on LeBron James, Leonard delivered. The Spurs have been loathe to disclose what was said to Leonard after Game 2. He was seen huddling with coach Gregg Popovich and team leaders Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

"Well, you know a lot of that is family business," Popovich said.

But now that it was over, now that the Spurs had won and there would be an entire summer to bask in that glow, Popovich decided to pull back the curtain just a bit.

"I just talked to him about not being in that deferment or that defer sort of stage. The hell with Tony, the hell with Timmy, the hell with Manu, you play the game. You are the man. You're a part of the engine that makes us go."

It's the kind of thing Popovich does not say lightly. Not every player would do the right thing afterward. Some would shoot 30 times. Others would feel the weight of it and shrivel up.

But Popovich has seen something special in Leonard for a while. He even called him the "face of the Spurs" one day during a summertime Q&A on the team website. It was a rare bit of candor from the normally gruff coach, but it was not an accident.

Popovich knew Leonard needed to hear it so he could start believing it. One day, the Spurs will need him to be that. One day when Duncan and Ginobili and maybe even Popovich are gone, it'll fall to Leonard to carry on what they've built here.

That that time arrived now, while they are all still here, is pretty wonderful.

That it happened on Father's Day, just feels right.

"That's what I said to myself," Robertson said.

Leonard paused for a moment to collect his thoughts before accepting his MVP award trophy from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, and looked up to the sky. He didn't need to say a word.

"At the moment," he said. "I was just happy."

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 24151926.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...