Los Angeles Clippers: Kawhi Leonard Wants King of the Court

Kawhi “Cyborg” Leonard broke multi-talented musician and Toronto Raptor mascot Drake’s heart when news circulated Canada’s basketball kingpin has decided to play for the Los Angeles Clippers next season.

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Kawhi Leonard had the entire sports world, waiting for his decision like many is waiting for the return of Christ. Similarly to what is written, Kawhi made the verdict known in the middle of the night and signed a 3-year $103M contract including a player option with the Los Angeles Clippers!! Leonard, his agent, and the Clipper’s organization masterfully executed a game of misdirection concerning the media. NBA basketball fans worldwide were sold a bill of goods by all NBA expert analysts and talking heads, who emphatically proclaimed arguably the best professional basketball player small forward Kawhi Leonard, will be playing next season with the LeBron James led L.A. Lakers or returning to the 2019 champions Toronto Raptors.

In short, if this past NBA Free Agency was a game of chess, Kawhi played it like Maurice Ashley, the first Jamaican-American to attain the title of grandmaster, while everyone else was playing checkers. Kudos and monstrous applause in amazement go to Los Angeles Clippers General Manager Jerry “The Logo” West, Owner Steve Ballmer, and Head Coach Glenn Anton “Doc” Rivers. Besides signing Kawhi, they also managed to pull off the most significant heist in recent NBA free agency history with their trade to obtain SG/SF Paul George’s services. What a whopper! The Clippers received Paul George in exchange they traded PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, F Danilo Gallinari, 4 unprotected 1st round picks, 1 protected 1st round pick, plus 2 pick swaps to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Growing up in the city of Brockton, after I dominated and devoured all competition. Routinely I would travel to Boston, MA in search of the best ballplayers I read about or seen on T.V. Without question, the game all of the supremely skillful and unapologetically ambitious ball players treasured to play was “King of the Court”. The sole objective of the game is to be the last man standing. Intriguingly, now that the Brooklyn Net’s unguardable superstar shooting guard, Kevin “KD” Durant will not be available next season, Kawhi now newly 2019 NBA champion, only has one man to compete against for the crown. James. LeBron “King” James.

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Entertainingly, Kawhi’s move to the Clippers is properly positioned and perfectly aligned in view of the throne. I cannot help but wonder, was the move to the Clippers a strategic play to arrange a showdown with King James? Unquestionably, yes! LeBron “King” James plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. Thus, Kawhi and King James are in the same city, but more importantly, they are in the same building. Amusingly, Toronto’s own Drake famously shouted on fellow artist’s Lil Wayne’s hit single “Right Above It”, “we are in the same building, but we have different views”.

Interestingly, Kawhi and King James have played against each other 9 games in the regular season and 12 games in the playoffs. King James won the individual battles averaging 24.9ppg vs. 21.6ppg, grabbing 10.6 rebounds vs. 7.3, and dishing out 7.3 assists vs. 3.8 in the regular season. Furthermore, King James averaged 26.5ppg vs. 15.9, snatched up 9.6 rebounds vs. 9.2, and handed out 5.8 assists vs. 1.3 in the playoffs. However, Kawhi won the war earning a 6-3 team record against King James and won an NBA Champion in the 2013 playoff.

It was well documented how much Kawhi yearned to return home to the city of Los Angeles. On the surface, it appeared that Kawhi wanted to return to the sun and have fun socially. When I attempt the impossible and take a crack of decoding Kawhi’s competitive basketball fervor. I am convinced Kawhi’s mindset is wired as such when the greatest players in NBA history are discussed, Kawhi is thinking his name will be mentioned. Accordingly, in order for that to take place, the Eastern Conference is out. Kawhi must go where the toughest and most dominant players are in the game today. Thus, the selection to go to the Western Conference. Why not the Lakers?

It was wildly reported Kawhi and his team personally requested a meeting to speak with the greatest Los Angeles Laker ever to wear the purple and gold Ervin “Magic” Johnson. Also, it was reported Los Angeles Lakers front office was still in disarray and disjointed, especially when business personnel sought to interfere with basketball rulings. It was reported the Lakers made movement on their roster and now can absorb a maximum contract. It was reported, actually, that might be exactly why Kawhi decided not to join the Lakers? All the noise. I would imagine Kawhi envisions of being with a team that won’t bump heads when they huddle.

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During my selfish and stubborn seasons in life. “My momma” would tell me accountability feels like an attack when you are not ready to acknowledge how your behavior harms others. Amongst the sports media circle the narrative of Kawhi Leonard being the “dynasty destroyer” has picked up a great deal of steam. Deservingly so, considering Kawhi was on the 2013 NBA Championship team when San Antonio Spurs defeated the original free agent assembled NBA “Dream Team”, the Miami Heat who had Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. Plus this past season, Kawhi spearheaded the charge of the 2019 NBA champions Toronto Raptors upsetting the back-to-back two-time NBA champions Golden State Warriors. With respects to Kawhi returning back to the Western Conference on the basketball court, consider this one other possibility.

Yes, it is a bit sadistic, however, Kawhi also returned to the Western Conference to ensure that his former coach Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs experience an unceremonious exit out of the playoffs for the next several years. Indisputably, there is a perpetually strained relationship between coach Popovich and Kawhi. Largely, surrounding the poor management of Kawhi’s injury during his time with the Spurs organization and the betrayal by both Kawhi’s teammates and ultimately coach. The trust between Kawhi, Popovich, and teammates was compromised. Although it has been reported Popovich and Leonard are speaking, there has not been enough time and space to heal that wound.

Furthermore, Stephen “Stak 5” Jackson, NBA analyst and former member of the 2013 NBA Champions San Antonio Spurs, reported in the middle of the dispute “I know coach Pop, I would not be surprised if he sent Kawhi out the country”. Thus, Toronto! Whether Jackson was being facetious or serious at the moment. His words proved to be prophetic. So if those were Popovich’s or any member of the Spur’s front office intentions, it is understandable if Kawhi still harbors not so warm and fuzzy feelings. If moving Kawhi to Toronto was deliberate out of spite, Kawhi should never feel guilty for cutting someone off when they handed you the scissors.

Now I know, Kawhi is notoriously quiet. Even coach Greg Popovich, questioned his leadership once he exited. However, Kawhi exhibited shrewd basketball business acumen, when he demonstrated the ability to selflessly acknowledge he would need help. Moreover, he identified who would come with him. I will say this, Kawhi may not talk, nonetheless, the Clippers landing Paul George, registers as the type of silence that is deafening!!

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All along here the general public thought, again because it was reported, one of the most appealing factors, was LeBron knowing how difficult winning an NBA championship doing the heavy lifting felt like. Yet all along, discreetly Kawhi Leonard was working in concert with the Clippers to trade for All-Pro Guard Paul George. Kawhi wants to compete for the crown. I can picture Kawhi listening to “It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” by James Brown, The Famous Flames, in the background while he shoots his jump shots. I cannot wait to see if Kawhi can actually become “King” of the court.

How do you feel about Kawhi Leonard selecting the Los Angeles Clippers? Leave a comment below.

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Follow Jamal on Twitter @JamalBurke9.

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