Legends are being made of different stuff. This might be said of Kawhi Leonard who’s comeback is one of the best in the NBA. Kawhi has always been someone who didn’t allow situations to get the better of him. This he showed while he was 16. That time his dad, Mark Leonard, was shot in a car wash, dying instantly. The next evening Leonard played the game although he had to cry after the match.
Imagine such a person. That’s only what legends can do. This attitude he exhibited even during a period of pain and injuries where he had no one to support him. Not even his team.
A Season of Injury
Before the 2017 season, Kawhi had a lot of prospects. He had all it got to be one of the greatest basketball players that he was named in the NBA Finals MVP in 2014 when he was just 22, making him the third youngest.
The momentum at which Kawhi moved stopped when he sustained a quadriceps injury. He had to miss the first 27 games of the season due to that injury. He resumed on December 12, 2017, only to get injured on January 5, 2018. He returned on January 13 only to get injured again.
The other injury forced him to go out for the season. Despite pressure from teammates and the management of the San Antonio Spurs, he did not play again in 2018.
The injury created a lot of tensions between Kawhi and management. They could not reach an agreement over the mode of his injury therapy. This led to the management to offload him and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors. JakobPoltl and DeMar DeRozan replaced them.
The injury also caused bad blood between him and the Spurs fans who alleged he was faking the injuries. Kawhi Leonard has denied the allegation. He said, “A lot of people that I was faking the injury or didn’t want to play for my team, and it was disappointing to me.”
With the Raptors taking care of his health and with sheer determination laced with hard work, Kawhi returned to his best making the NBA Finals MVP in just a season of coming back despite not playing the most of 2018.
Opening the season in what was a debut on October 17, 2018, Kawhi got 24 points and 12 rebounds in a game they won Cleveland Cavaliers. He continued this streak with 31 points two days later in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Although he received what became his first technical foul in a game with the Miami Heat, that was not enough to stop him from amassing 31 points and 15 rebounds.
In what seems to be an act of revenge on November 29, 2018, he scored 37 points to help the Raptors beat Golden State Warriors.
With this achievement in a very short time, Kawhi has set the bar for himself. This might continue only if he doesn’t get troubled by injuries.