Kawhi Leonard's complicated relationship with the San Antonio Spurs (especially their medical staff) didn't age well. When Leonard took his talents to Toronto and won a championship, then to Los Angeles months after, it painted a bad image of the Spurs. And now that both parties have been apart for 4 years, it wouldn't be crazy to assume that there's still bad blood between Leonard's camp and the Spurs, particularly his first coach, Gregg Popovich.
Kawhi Leonard dismissed that
Four years have passed since Leonard's San Antonio stint, and despite all the complications that went down before his departure, the 2-time champion believes that he and Pop have no bad blood. After all, Pop was Leonard's first mentor, and the 5-time All-Star didn't hesitate to say that his first NBA coach is the reason why he's the superstar that he is today.
"He's the reason why I'm the player I am today...built that foundation, showing me winning basketball. He's a great coach. Still one of the best coaches I've had. We've been in too many battles to have a scar on our relationship," Leonard said after the Clippers' victory over the Spurs on Saturday.
Speaking of Klaw and Pop's relationship, they had multiple moments on Sunday's game that probably put a smile on the faces of Spurs fans. There was one when Popovich had words to say for Kawhi when he was at the Spurs bench, then another when they both dapped each other up after the game. When Leonard was asked what the conversations were about, he stayed on brand by keeping it close to the vest.
"Nah, you know I don't tell what goes on on the court. Maybe if you ask him," Leonard said, as reported by Clutch Points.
Now off to different paths
Now that Leonard and Popovich have moved on, it seems their future Hall-of-Fame-worthy career paths are doing the same. Popovich, who has won five championships as a coach (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014), is possibly in the twilight phase of his remarkable career, while Leonard still has a lot left in the tank and the potential to compete for more championships.
However, the only hurdle that's getting in the way of Leonard is the same reason why he and the Spurs had a fallout in the first place — his health issues.
It will be interesting to witness the trajectory of Kawhi's career in the next few seasons. Will he live up to the elite superstar reputation he's built over his career under Popovich? Or will his health issues get in the way of his already impressive career? We'll find out soon enough.