David Robinson passed the torch to Tim Duncan in 2003 after the duo had won 2 Championships together. Since then Duncan has led the Spurs for 13 more years, winning 3 more titles. This season the torch was passed to Kawhi and he has shinned, averaging a career high 26 PPG, and continuing his defensive dominance. Kawhi Leonard is continuing the legacy of Robinson and Duncan.
He’s quite, he isn’t flashy, he drives a 19-year old car, and he’s been quoted recently saying, “Basketball is fun”. He’s fundamentally sound, extremely coachable, and a rare talent in this league who’s already won 2 Defensive Player of the Year Awards.
Not only does he resemble their attitudes, and character, but he has also continued their winning ways. The Spurs currently hold the 2nd seed in the West, trailing the Warriors, who they play tonight, by only 2 games. They look well on their way to winning 60 games, the 6th time they’ve done so in the last 20 years.
Kawhi isn’t exactly like his predecessors however; unlike Duncan and Robinson he wasn’t drafted 1st overall, nor was he hyped up to the “franchise savior” levels that they were. He was drafted 15th by the Indiana Pacers only to be traded to the Spurs for George Hill. Entering the league his scouting report said that no one aspect of his offensive game stood out, that he was a shaky ball handler, an inconsistent shooter, and they also said that he wasn’t very disciplined defensively. They compared him to Gerald Wallace!
Because of this he plays with a chip on his shoulder that Robinson and Duncan never really had. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Kawhi plays some of his best basketball against LeBron James. Last night he continued that trend, as the Spurs blew out the Cavs 103-74. He held LeBron just 17 points on 41% shooting, while Kawhi Scored 25 on 52% shooting in the same amount of minutes (29).
Every time Kawhi steps out on that court he isn’t just playing the opposing team, he’s playing the scouts, and all the teams that passed up on him, and because of this he continues to get better and better each and every game. Robinson passed the torch to Duncan, and now Duncan has passed the torch to Kawhi who will continue their legacies, but also form his own.