Kawhi Leonard has become one of the best players in the NBA, but he’s also, by far, one of the most unique and interesting personalities in the league. Nicknamed “The Klaw” for his massive hands and 7-foot wingspan, Kawhi was born on June 29, 1991 in Los Angeles, California. He currently plays for the Los Angeles Clippers, after joining the team in free agency. Approaching his eighth season in the NBA, Leonard has won championships with San Antonio Spurs and the Toronto Raptors, becoming the first player in NBA history to win Finals MVP in each conference. Kawhi Leonard is one of the best all-around players in basketball, winning back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards during the 2015-2016 seasons. He’s also a three-time NBA All-Star. Known for his reserved personality and lack of emotion, Kawhi Leonard has become a reluctant, but fascinating superstar.
In high school, Kawhi was selected to the McDonald’s All-American team, while also being named California’s Mr. Basketball in 2009. Kawhi attended San Diego State University where he played two seasons before heading to the NBA. In 2011, Kawhi entered the NBA Draft, where he was selected 15th overall to the Indiana Pacers, but was soon traded to the San Antonio Spurs. Joining the superstar core of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobli, Kawhi was an instant asset to a championship team and made an immediate impact on the court. The San Antonio Spurs advanced to the NBA Finals in Kawhi’s second season with the team, losing to LeBron James and the Miami Heat. The following year they faced Miami again in the NBA Finals, winning in 5 games. Leonard averaged 17.8 points in the series and shot 61% from the floor, earning him his first Finals MVP award. After re-signing with the San Antonio Spurs for an extension, Kawhi Leonard was named back to back Defensive Player of the Year in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons. Kawhi Leonard was quickly emerging as one of the best players in the league, receiving his first all-star selections in the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons, but the Spurs continued to fall short in the West.
At the tip of the 2017-2018 season, Leonard experienced a number of injuries causing him to only play in 9 full games that regular season. Although he barely stepped on the court, he was able to ink a massive shoe deal with New Balance, becoming the company’s biggest basketball icon since former Finals MVP James Worthy. To the surprise of many, Kawhi Leonard and his teammate Danny Greene were traded to the Toronto Raptors last summer in a blockbuster deal. Once in Toronto, Kawhi lead the Raptors to the second seed in the East, and then annihilated everyone in front of him during the playoffs with averages of 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Kawhi capped off his incredible season by delivering the Toronto Raptors their first ever NBA championship over the Golden State Warriors.
As a newly crowned champion and upcoming free agent, Kawhi Leonard considered the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Toronto Raptors before convincing Paul George to join him on the Clippers. With two former NBA MVP contenders in George and Leonard, and NBA championship coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers have become a new powerhouse with high odds to win an NBA championship next season. Kawhi has won every single step of his career, and we wouldn’t bet on that stopping anytime soon.