Kawhi Leonard was introduced as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, and it had a different feel than the press conference he had with the Toronto Raptors.
In front of a crowd of media and team representatives, Kawhi Leonard was introduced for the first time as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers. And that’s it. There was no quote that could be taken out of context, no promises of, “not five, not six, not seven,” championships, just Leonard and Paul George holding up jerseys and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer acting a fool.
Everything fell right into place and it seemed different than what he had with the Toronto Raptors especially when the famous laugh exploded on social media.
The closest either George or Leonard came to giving the media something to talk about was when Kawhi stated:
"“As far as the last few years, as far as a basketball standpoint, the Clippers have been better.”"
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Of course, this quip is the one that most of the mainstream NBA media seem to be locking onto and trying to squeeze a story out of, but, as with most everything Kawhi says, there’s simply nothing there. He’s right. Everyone knows he’s right. That’s it.
Kawhi did seem to let his guard down when asked about his time in Toronto. He offered a sincere and heartfelt thank you to the organization, doctors and fans, even thanking the various restaurants that took part in the “Ka’wine and Dine” effort to try to entice Leonard to stay.
But that’s really it. There’s not much else of note to talk about, and that’s what makes what Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Clippers brass have assembled so great. This is the first time publicly that Leonard, George and Ballmer have shared the stage, and it’s clear that they’re on the same page.
You have two quiet, tough, defensive-minded players who aren’t going to captivate an audience with the microphone like a Draymond Green or a LeBron James can, but come baggage-free and have the high character needed to keep your head on straight in Los Angeles.
Then, you have Steve Ballmer, and he is doing what Steve Ballmer does best; putting up a smokescreen. If the media are talking about Ballmer and not his players, then he is doing his job.
While Ballmer’s sheer jubilance is a direct contradiction to Leonard’s stoicism, they seem like a match made in heaven. In Toronto, there was a constant demand for Kawhi to say something or do something or go somewhere. He was unequivocally “the guy” during his short tenure as a Raptor.
Now, not only will he gladly be able to concede some of the spotlight to Paul George, but he will also have Ballmer there to take the heat off of him during the season.
In summary, Kawhi Leonard was introduced as a Clipper yesterday. There’s really nothing else to say.
And that’s exactly what he wanted.
What were your thoughts on Kawhi’s press conference and how much different it was than the one he had with the Raptors? Let us know in the comments below.