Skip to content

Spurs appreciate Kawhi Leonard’s quiet confidence

Jun 12, 2013, 7:21 PM EDT

Miami Heat v San Antonio Spurs - Game Three Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO — Kawhi Leonard is in only his second NBA season, but he’s already an extremely important part of the Spurs and their championship aspirations.

Leonard’s defense on LeBron James has helped limit the league MVP to 18 points or less in each of the first three games of the Finals, and when he’s not been the one who’s stopped James personally, his positioning in forcing him into where the help defense is waiting has been tactically excellent on a very high percentage of those possessions.

But Leonard’s emergence hasn’t done anything to change his personality, which remains as quiet as his play is confident.

“Kawhi has never spoken to me,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said in his typically dry tone on Wednesday. “So I don’t really know what his level of confidence is, but watching him play, it seems he has no problem in that area. He just plays and goes home.”

The way Leonard carries himself has been a perfect fit for this Spurs team that consistently has downplayed stardom in favor of working for the collective greater good, and Popovich knows that it’s a special quality that not everyone possesses.

“Really, really rare,” Popovich said. “He just doesn’t seem to have doubts. He has aspects of the game that he wants to and does work on daily. But he never shows doubt. He just shows his willingness to go to work.”

Tim Duncan couldn’t think of an instance where he’s seen Leonard lose his composure or his confidence, but admitted it might be tough to tell if in fact that was ever the case.

“I don’t think he expresses enough emotion to know either way,” Duncan said. “He’s always the same. He’s always even keeled and he always looks like he’s right where he wants to be.”

Leonard doesn’t even want to absorb any credit yet for the job he’s done on James to this point, preferring instead to praise the team concept while emulating Duncan and Popovich by doing so with as few words as possible.

“I’m studying my team concepts and just buying into our game plan,” Leonard said. “That’s all I’m doing. Playing hard.”

He’s just another cog in the Spurs machine in his eyes, and that’s what makes him a perfect fit for a team full of selfless stars that finds itself halfway to a championship — not because of the heroics of Duncan and Tony Parker, but because of guys precisely like Leonard who do their job without much more than a whisper.

Latest Posts
  1. Stephen Curry put on a show against Puerto Rico (VIDEO)

    Aug 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Stephen Curry AP

    It was a good night to be Stephen Curry.

  2. USA Basketball announces 12 man roster for World Cup; Parsons, Hayward, Lillard, Korver cut

    Aug 23, 2014, 1:20 AM EDT

    Puerto Rico v United States Getty Images

    Team USA kept four centers on the roster. That’s a bit of a surprise.

  3. USA Basketball cruises to exhibition win over Puerto Rico with final roster cuts looming

    Aug 23, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    The players who got DNP-CDs in this one may be the ones who stay home.

  4. J.R. Smith wants Knicks shooting guards to ‘put their egos aside’

    Aug 22, 2014, 9:50 PM EDT

    Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith

    Playing time decisions will be interesting with four legitimate options competing for minutes.

  5. Team USA will make (potentially final) cuts Saturday

    Aug 22, 2014, 6:21 PM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Getty Images

    DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond, Gordon Hayward, Chandler Parsons, Kyle Korver all possibilities for chopping block

  6. Ricky Rubio representing NBA2K in Spain (PHOTO)

    Aug 22, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT

    Adidas Eurocamp - Day 2 Getty Images

    A fine choice, even if he isn’t the best current NBA player from Spain.

  7. Hornets sign first round pick P.J. Hairston

    Aug 22, 2014, 4:02 PM EDT

    PJ Hairston PJ Hairston

    Hairston’s guarantee will total $2 million over two seasons.

  8. J.R. Smith wants to be leader for Knicks this season

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT

    Charlotte Bobcats v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Watching Smith and his gunner, ball-stopping tendencies try to fit in the move-the-ball, read and react triangle offense is going to be interesting. To put it kindly.

  9. Jeremy Lin feeling comfortable, even with new wax statue of himself

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT

    Jeremy Lin wax figure

    His critics don’t get it, but Jeremy Lin is a solid NBA guard now.

  10. Report: Klay Thompson a Mike Krzyzewski favorite for Team USA

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Getty Images

    Krzyzewski – surprise, surprise – also reportedly likes Mason Plumlee, who played at Duke

  11. Watch Giannis Antetokounmpo go length of court in two dribbles, dunk (VIDEO)

    Aug 22, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT

    Taco Bell Skills Challenge 2014 Getty Images

    The Greek freak is going to be so much fun to watch at the world Cup.

  12. Drew Gooden will not play for Finland in World Cup

    Aug 22, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Drew Gooden

    The hopes of the Finnish nation are crushed…. if they even noticed.

  13. V. Stiviano suit: Donald Sterling is gay

    Aug 22, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT

    Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano

    Stiviano claims Sterling paid her to act as his beard

  14. Report: Mavericks re-sign Bernard James

    Aug 22, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Berard James Berard James

    James, on one-year minimum-salary contract, will have right to veto trades

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (3911)
  2. S. Marion (2224)
  3. L. James (2200)
  4. K. Bryant (2178)
  5. K. Love (2108)
  1. K. Irving (2067)
  2. A. Davis (2047)
  3. R. Allen (1876)
  4. D. Cousins (1838)
  5. E. Bledsoe (1820)