Excuse me for a moment, this next paragraph demands my near perfect Michael Buffer impersonation.
He stands at 6’8” 225 lbs. He is a lock down defensive presence that is also able to score 25 points on any given night. He comes through when it matters most. He is the closest thing to a “LeBron Stopper” you will ever see. He was drafted in the first round by the Indiana Pacers. Ladies and gentlemen I present to you NBA’s next superstar, the Air Apparent, Kawhi Leonard?
Yes, I am talking about Kawhi Leonard, Corn Row enthusiast. I can’t figure out whether he is the greatest thing to happen to corn rows since the 2007 Denver Nuggets, or if his hair swag is the reason his ascension hasn’t been hastier. I blame his hair for the 2013 Finals lost, I’m sorry I truly believe it was all his braids fault. Of course none of that will matter Sunday night around 11 PM, because the only things we will call the 22 year old Leonard will be Champion and by my prediction, Finals M-V-P.
He has been nothing short of sensational in the Spurs victories this Finals with 29 points in San Antonio’s second victory in the series and a masterpiece 20 point, 14 rebound performance in the most recent dismantling of the once and wistful champs the Miami Heat. Proving his worth he only had 9 points in the Heat’s lone victory in the series.
It’s been wonderful to see the miraculous transformation of Leonard has had from rebound magnet Power Forward at San Diego State to the real third banana in the San Antonio Spurs “Big Three”; Ironically the type of miraculous thing that seems to happen often with well-run organizations like the Spurs.
Kawhi has been an invaluable piece for the is team all season, with the team going 54-12 this season when he played and an even better record post the All-Star break. In the regular season his stats were a modest 12 points and 6 boards a game, but that has more to do with the reticence of Coach Gregg Popovich’s system and offense. Kawhi’s impact is felt deeper than the box score. He pops out on the screen when watching games and when the situation calls for herculean efforts, he delivers. It is amazing to me that he only 22. Yes, coming from a 22 year old this is still amazing!
Per NBA-reference.com Leonard now has five of the nine youngest double-doubles in the NBA Finals since 1985 with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James taking the rest. That is some pretty elite company.
Kawhi like his other Spurs colleagues has a quiet, calm presence about him. After that great performance in Game 4, when asked about the adjustments the Heat planned to make to limit his effectiveness, the same plans that failed miserably. Kawhi simply responded “I’m just a baller”. We believe you good sir, now if only you could do something about those corn rows.