When you saw Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard before the NBA Finals, you didn’t say much. Just the forward who had his moments here and there. Maybe you remember him from San Diego State University, then you can say a little more about him, as he was averaging 15.7 PPG, 10.4 RPG & led the Aztecs to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament before entering the 2011 NBA Draft.
In these past 4 games in the NBA Finals, 22-year old Leonard has finally demonstrated his sheer skills and to summon up why he was the overall 15th pick in that 2011 draft (side note: Pacers drafted Leonard but traded to Spurs).
Leonard has preoccupied the spotlight with Spurs Tim Duncan but he’s not saying much. Throughout his explosiveness and all the media, he remains quiet. He’s not a Lance Stephenson where he came off an ego boost and told the media he could stop the two time champ Lebron James and then lose. He’s not using social networks with redundant posts or being flashy or yelling in a players faces after an insane play or big win. He’s letting his actions speak for him because as we see with Leonard, who barely speaks, words mean nothing.
This is why I call him the “Quiet Storm”. No words, just actions.
However, I think Kawhi Leonard became this way when a tragic moment happened in 2008.
Mark Leonard, Kawhi’s father, was his biggest fan and was always at his games. But on January 19 2008, junior high school star Kawhi played grieving that his father was not there that game. The night before, Mark was shot and killed at his car wash in Compton. LA Times reports that there were no motives and no suspects to this day.
The day of that game, LA Times reported Kawhi wanted to play that game, “Basketball helps me take my mind off things, picking me up every day when I’m feeling down. Basketball is my life, and I wanted to go out there and take my mind off it. It was real sad. My father was supposed to be at the game.”
Kawhi used all the energy and effort he had and scored 17 points for the Riverside Kings that night but lost the game against the Compton Dominguez. After the loss, he broke down crying and went into his mothers arms releasing all the emotions of his dad’s murder. The reporter Eric Sondheimer said “it was a scene with so much sorrow and distress that I turned my head and walked away”.
Last time Kawhi Leonard spoke about his father was the 2011 NBA Draft. He told The Post’s Michael Lee, “My dad leaving my life. That’s the biggest thing that happened to me. I just remember what he tells me, the memories and try to move on forward each day, knowing that he’s still here, looking down on me”.
With the anguish of his father’s murder, he became one of the best high school players, a star college player and now the next big thing in the NBA; something the NBA needed I might say. With those techniques, he also became low-pitched and low-key. Losing a parent, your biggest fan, can do this to you.
Honoring his father in the best way he knows is with his actions, not his words.