The 2018-19 NBA season hasn't even tipped and we've already learned more about mumbly Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard than we did during his seven previous seasons with the Spurs. After his inaugural media day north of the border revealed a meme-worthy chuckle he appeared to be choking on, he did it again when the Raptors were asked to name their five favorite hip-hop albums from the summer of 2018. Fast forward to 55 seconds to hear it.
In terms of his album choices, Drizzy at No. 1 made sense, considering where he now plays and banging tracks on Scorpion. Conversely, Daytona was fire, despite how Pusha-T came at Toronto's global brand ambassador. Even Eminem made an appearance for Kamikaze, but it was the laugh at the very end that will live on.
When the normally aloof Raptors wing actually expresses humor about something, it's like a blip in the Matrix, or a malfunctioning robot. Because Leonard is most often cast as a cyborg by unoriginal writers, the laugh just plays into that perception. But it also conjures a few questions: Does he laugh like this when he's genuinely tickled? Does he even find things funny? We always thought Kawhi was the type of guy who would—sporting a detached countenance—exclaim of a joke, or quip: "That's funny," instead of laughing.
Leonard's struggles with the Spurs last season over the timetable for his return from injury showed his humanity, but his laughter doesn't help reverse the already-tired trope about the seemingly synthetic nature of his abilities.