UPDATED November 26, 10:10 a.m. ET: Kawhi responded (1:48 mark of the video) to Popovich's comments on Sunday after picking up the first technical of his career in a 125-115 win over the Heat. "It's just funny to me because, you know, I don't know if he's talking about last year or not, but I guess when you stop playing they forget how you lead," Leonard told the scrum around him after the game. "Other than that, it doesn't matter. I'm here with the Raptors. My focus is on the season and not what's going on the other side."
When pressed about what type of leader he considered himself, Kawhi explained that his actions speak louder than words. "Leading by example. Coming into practice evert day, and just going hard and coming into these games mentally focused," he said. "You can't see things once you're playing on the floor. Guys ask me questions about their matchup or if I see something on the floor, I'm telling guys, 'Go here, go there,' just motivating people, do you know what I mean?"
See original story below.
When Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors in July, we thought we were done looking back on what turned out to be a tumultuous tenure in San Antonio. Even Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich stressed that it was "time to move on" once the deal was completed. However, on Saturday, Popovich inexplicably decided to single out Leonard when asked about Patty Mills assuming the leadership role following the departure of Kawhi and Tony Parker, in addition to the retirement of Manu Ginobili.
"Kawhi was a great player, but he wasn't a leader or anything," Popovich said, per USA Today. "Manu and Patty were the leaders. Kawhi's talent will always be missed, but that leadership wasn't his deal at that time. That may come as he progresses, but Manu and Patty filled that role last year, and LaMarcus (Aldridge) came a long way in that regard also."
Popovich could be 1,000 percent correct on his assessment of Leonard as a leader during his time with the Spurs, but there's no need to bring him up considering how both sides left on such bad terms. Pop has been in the business long enough to know that one little quote about Kawhi will be blown out of proportion.
*Looks in the mirror*
Eventually, this quote will get back to Leonard, and potentially revitalize a topic that we thought we had left in the rearview mirror. Next time, Pop, heed your own words and just move on.