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Gregg Popovich once told Kawhi Leonard that he needed to surpass a certain undrafted Spurs legend

Gregg Popovich used some interesting motivating tactics to unleash Kawhi Leonard's potential.
Gregg Popovich wanted Kawhi Leonard to be like the Spurs' defensive stopper Bruce Bowen

Gregg Popovich with Kawhi Leonard

When we’re discussing Kawhi Leonard and his searing talents, it would be foolish to leave out San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. The man was instrumental in the development of the Klaw during his stint in Texas. Very early on, Popovich saw Leonard’s potential and told him that his goal should be to surpass a certain undrafted Spurs legend.

Times 10

Before he became the two-way player that he is today, Leonard was known as a defensive machine in his first few years in the league. He was quick off his feet, he had those hands that could disrupt passing lanes, and he had the superhuman-like anticipation. While he was already a decent defender in college, Popovich turned Kawhi into a legend by giving him a colossal task.

"You have to be the best defender in the league," Popovich told Leonard. "You have to be Bruce Bowen times 10."

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Unfortunately, Leonard and Bowen didn’t don the Spurs jersey at the same time. Bowen last played for the Spurs in 2009 while Leonard was drafted in 2011. But this doesn’t mean Leonard is not aware of Bowen.

The undrafted guard was instrumental in the Spurs' championship years in the 2000s. He was selected multiple times to the All-Defensive Teams. He also defended the likes of Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Paul Pierce, Allan Houston, and a young LeBron James, just to name a few.

The great thing about Bowen is that he didn’t remain a defensive stopper. He also added a little offense to his arsenal, particularly the short-corner 3-pointer. His numbers from the 2005-06 season paint an impressive picture. Bowen attempted 536 shots for 43.3 percent. Of those shots, 436 were 3-pointers and 222 of those came from the short-corner. All in all, he shot a ridiculous 44.6 percent from the corner threes in that season.

Has Kawhi surpassed Bowen?

Bowen has a total of three NBA championships and 8 All-Defensive Team selections. For his part, Leonard has two NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVPs, seven All-Defensive Team selections, two Defensive Player of the Year trophies, five All-Star appearances, and one All-Star MVP, among many other accolades. We may have to ask Popovich this question, but looking at their resume, we can say Leonard has surpassed Bowen by a mile.

But Leonard is far from calling it quits. While he was out rehabbing his right leg, the Clippers beefed up their roster with the likes of Norman Powell and Robert Covington. Terance Mann also reached new heights, too, effectively giving the Clippers another weapon.

There’s a good chance the Clippers will make the playoffs with Leonard back in the fold. It won’t be a surprise if they win the title. Leonard is very adept at guiding teams to championships.

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