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“Having the team behind my back…they want what’s best for me” — Kawhi Leonard is still salty about the San Antonio Spurs

It's been over four years since Kawhi left San Antonio, and there's still feelings about the way that relationship broke down.
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks with forward Kawhi Leonard

Gregg Popovich and Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard has returned to the court after missing the entire 2021-22 season due to a torn right ACL. In an interview, he mentioned how it was different coming from a long layoff compared to his time with San Antonio Spurs and playing for the Toronto Raptors.

”They want what’s best for me”

Kawhi was supposed to be the franchise player for the Spurs, the next in line to inherit Tim Duncan’s throne, but the relationship soured towards the end of his time there. 

The Klaw suffered from a nagging quadriceps injury in 2017, and the Spurs and Kawhi’s camp had different opinions on the matter, which eventually damaged the trust between them. Coach Gregg Popovich claimed the injury was unlike anything he’d seen before. It led to Kawhi rehabbing away from the team, and then all hell broke loose.

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In 2018, he was listed out indefinitely to continue rehabbing the already weird injury situation. The rift between the Spurs and Kawhi’s camp started to go around the grapevine, eventually leading to his trade to the Toronto Raptors in July 2018. Looking back at the stressful event of his career, the L.A. Clippers star compared returning to the game as a member of the Clippers and the Spurs

In such a few words, Leonard already threw shade at his former team, but no one could blame him. It tainted his image as someone who cherrypicked and sat out games whenever inconvenienced. We may never know the truth behind his injury, but it sent the league a message on how star players should have an open line of communication with their teams.

How the Kawhi Leonard trade impacted the league

The Raptors won the trade as Kawhi Leonard delivered a championship in his lone season there. Meanwhile, the Spurs struggled after he got traded. Now, the Clippers’ front office is trying to get their star in the groove of things, but fans should expect limited minutes for The Klaw.

When the Los Angeles, California native went to the Clippers, it kickstarted the trend of teams having two legit superstars as opposed to those with three or more. It reinstated parity in the NBA. With a healthy Kawhi, Paul George, and John Wall, the Clippers fans have something to look forward to this season. If everyone remains healthy, there is a growing belief that the Clippers have what it takes to go to the finals and win the title. 

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