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“He didn't raise his fist or look cool to the crowd or do any of this stupid-ass stuff.” — Gregg Popovich names one of his favorite Kawhi Leonard moments

Gregg Popovich recalls a great Kawhi Leonard play featuring Stephen Curry.
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks with forward Kawhi Leonard

Gregg Popovich and Kawhi Leonard

Legendary coach Gregg Popovich is credited for spotting and honing Kawhi Leonard’s talent. Their bond was established through their shared love for competition and basketball. Kawhi's departure from San Antonio was shocking because he seemed like the heir apparent of Tim Duncan - cool, calm, and collected. You could say, almost emotionless. 

Programmed to terminate

Popovich heaped praise on Kawhi sometime in the 2015-16 NBA season. He looked back on their 107-92 win over the Golden State Warriors. In particular, Popovich pointed out a particular play involving Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Curry.

"He stole it from Curry the other night, just took it from him and went down and dunked it, and his expression did not change. He didn't raise his fist or look cool to the crowd or do any of this stupid-ass stuff. He didn't do a thing. He just goes the other direction, like he's bored to death. I love that about him," Popovich said, per San Antonio Express-News.

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Below is the moment Popovich is talking about. Curry was already known as one of the best ball handlers then. But Leonard made him look like an inexperienced noob. Kawhi utilized his Klaw and impeccable timing to tap the ball away en route to a fastbreak dunk. Leonard finished with 26 points and 7 steals that night.

A great year

The 2015-16 NBA season was actually a pivotal year for Kawhi. It was the first time he averaged over 20 points per game, became an All-Star, and was selected to an All-NBA Team. In addition, Leonard took home his second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year trophy. He also finished second in MVP voting behind Stephen Curry.

We can say that this was the year superstar Kawhi made his presence known. What makes this analysis interesting is that two years ago, Leonard was crowned NBA Finals MVP. His offensive game wasn’t as good in '15/'16 days. He was merely tagged as a defensive specialist tasked to contain LeBron James. Safe to say that the man succeeded in this colossal task.

Years after that fateful season, Leonard is still considered one of the best players today. We didn’t see him last year because of an ACL injury. But before he was sidelined, he displayed pretty much the same lowkey demeanor. He’s just a guy who wants to play ball and win. Kawhi Leonard calls himself the Klaw. Maybe he should also call himself the Stone-Faced Assassin. 


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