Remember "Uncle Dennis" Robertson? Aside from being Kawhi Leonard's uncle, Robertson served as his nephew's public mouthpiece last year when their dispute over the true diagnosis of Leonard's quad injury with the San Antonio Spurs escalated to a point of no return.
Since getting traded to the Toronto Raptors, Robertson has fallen back from the spotlight, but he re-emerged after Leonard's buzzer beater against the 76ers. Robertson was spotted embracing Raptors chairman Larry Tanenbaum and president Masai Ujiri following the team's Game 6 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
On Sunday, Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports was able to speak with Robertson about what the Raptors' historic win means to Kawhi in light of what he went through in his last season with the Spurs. "We’re a humble family and we’re just enjoying the moment," Robertson said. "Most people would say it’s vindication, but I’m not sure about that. But it was nice that we kept our mouths shut and just let everything play out."
"And for Kawhi, to take all the negative press he received and to focus on taking the East and to taking each series game by game, it’s a big deal," Robertson continued. "Making it to the Finals is a big deal. This is a team that has never been to the Finals and we’re happy about that. It feels good with what we went through last year. We have to be happy. He said it best with all the work he's put into his craft: He’s ready for this moment. What he accomplished was amazing. That’s what stars do. How he’s handled everything on and off the court is well deserved. It was nice to see him fight through all the adversity and he’s earned every minute of this."
With Kawhi's tenure with the Spurs seemingly a distant memory as he continues to write a new chapter in his NBA career with the Raptors, Robertson decided to speak openly about why a change of scenery was necessary for his nephew. "I think it just became a lack of trust," Robertson said. "They didn’t believe Kawhi couldn’t play and that caused a lack of trust in us and then us not believing in them."
"Any time a player says he’s not capable of playing, you should believe him," he added. "Why would Kawhi just stop playing all of a sudden? He’s a competitor. Sometimes you get these team doctors telling you what you can and cannot do, and Kawhi was just in too much pain to get out there. This was a serious issue. They didn’t believe him, and after that, the relationship couldn’t recover and we decided we had to move on."