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#pounditFriday, September 18, 2020

Kawhi Leonard

Watch: Kawhi Leonard gets standing ovation in Toronto during ring ceremony

Kawhi Leonard

The Los Angeles Clippers’ visit to Toronto on Wednesday was the occasion to give Kawhi Leonard his 2019 championship ring, and it’s safe to say that there are no hard feelings from Raptor fans.

Leonard was greeted with a standing ovation and “MVP” chants after a tribute video was shown. He greeted all of the remaining coaches and teammates he played with last season before being handed his ring by Kyle Lowry.

These ring ceremonies can be strange affairs when the receiving player is no longer on the team. Depending on the manner of departure, the fan reception can be awkward. That was not the case here. Toronto fans hold no ill will toward Leonard for leaving, and remember him as the man who helped deliver the Raptors’ first NBA title. The feeling appears to be mutual, and this was a good occasion for all.

Ivica Zubac seemingly spoils Kawhi Leonard’s return to Clippers

Ivica Zubac may have spoiled some significant Los Angeles Clippers injury news Wednesday.

With the status of forward Kawhi Leonard still up in the air, Zubac essentially revealed after the team’s shootaround that the plan was for Leonard and Paul George to finally play together on Wednesday.

Leonard hasn’t played since Nov. 13 as he battles a knee issue. That came at a bad time, as George recovered from shoulder issues to make his Clippers debut the next night. That means the two just haven’t quite been healthy at the same time.

Zubac certainly can’t be accused of being misleading about an injury — which his coach got fined for — when he’s going off-message like this.

Kawhi Leonard apologized to former teammate over inadvertent eye poke

Kawhi Leonard

Apparently robots can feel remorse too.

Toronto Raptors swingman OG Anunoby told reporters on Friday that he received an apology from former teammate Kawhi Leonard, who accidentally poked him in the eye during Monday’s loss to the LA Clippers.

“He felt bad, but it was an accident,” said Anunoby, per Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun. “We just talked. He just said sorry.”

The poke happened in the opening minutes of the contest, and knocked Anunoby out for the rest of it with an eye contusion. He missed Wednesday’s game against Portland too but is expected back for Saturday against Dallas.

Leonard is known for his stoic demeanor (such that his coach recently cracked a funny joke about it), so the apology to Anunoby might have been a brief one.

Doc Rivers cracks funny joke about Kawhi Leonard’s demeanor

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard is known for being one of the most “boring” players in the NBA, but his even-keeled personality has served him well throughout his career. If you expected to see a big change in him when the Los Angeles Clippers faced his former team, you would have been wrong.

Leading up to Monday’s game against the Toronto Raptors, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was asked by a reporter if he had noticed anything different about Leonard’s “demeanor” this week. Doc’s response was hilarious.

Leonard scored 12 points to go along with 11 rebounds, nine assists and three steals in his team’s 98-88 win, and he probably felt no different about the performance than he did when he was dominating the postseason last year en route to a title. The most emotion you’ll ever see from Kawhi was when he shared his big celebration plans following the NBA Finals.

Some confuse Leonard’s lack of visual emotion with indifference, but that is clearly not the case. He’s a competitor who is capable of taking over a game at any moment. Showcasing his feelings has just never been his thing, so it’s no surprise Monday night’s showdown with his former team was no different.

Clippers fined $50,000 by NBA for Doc Rivers’ comments on Kawhi Leonard

Doc Rivers

The NBA announced on Thursday that they have fined the LA Clippers $50,000 over Doc Rivers’ comments on the the Kawhi Leonard situation.

Leonard did not play in a nationally-televised game on ESPN Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks due to his ongoing “load management” plan.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday that Kawhi “feels great,” which led to further anger from fans who had paid to watch the great matchup and ended up seeing a Clippers team without their best player.

If Leonard “feels great,” then why isn’t he playing, fans wondered?

The Clippers argued to the league that Leonard is dealing with ongoing knee trouble, which is an argument the league accepted in allowing Leonard to miss the game under the league’s resting policy.

The league said in their statement about the fine that they determined Leonard is managing a knee condition.

Adam Silver has established himself as a player-friendly commissioner who supports the players’ desires to keep their bodies in optimal conditions, even if that means missing games. What they don’t want is the perception that players are missing games for no reason, which is why they fined the Clippers. Rivers’ comments make the league and team look worse for the suggestion that they are sitting a healthy player.

NBA releases statement on Clippers resting Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard will sit out his second game of the season on Wednesday night as part of his load management plan, and he and the Los Angeles Clippers are facing some criticism since their game against the Milwaukee Bucks will be nationally televised. However, the NBA says they are not violating any rules.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Wednesday that Leonard is “not a healthy player under the league’s resting policy,” as the Clippers have listed him with a knee injury on their injury report. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski notes that the Clippers have worked closely with the NBA and provided the necessary medical information.

Teams resting star players for nationally televised games has been a controversial topic for a few years now. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich popularized the tactic as a way of keeping his star players fresh for the postseason, and the NBA has since tried to discourage teams from engaging in the practice. There was a report last year that the league threatened to hit the New Orleans Pelicans with a massive fine for the way they were handling Anthony Davis’ playing time, but Bass denied that at the time.

While it would appear the Clippers have taken all the necessary steps to rest Leonard “legally,” Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype reports that people in NBA circles still consider it an issue. One possible solution that has been proposed is to avoid having the first or second game of a back-to-back on national television, that way it will be less likely that a team is going to rest its star players.

Leonard’s relationship with the Spurs went up in flames because of the way his quad injury was handled, and he credited the Toronto Raptors’ load management plan for helping him dominate in the playoffs last year. The Clippers are aiming for the same result, so they’re going to do everything they can to stick to Leonard’s preferred plan.

Kawhi Leonard files two new trademarks for clothing brand

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard is working on getting two new phrases trademarked, apparently for a clothing brand.

Leonard filed to trademark the phrases “what it do baby” and “city views over interviews” with suggestions that both will be used for apparel.

“What it do baby” is, of course, a meme that came about after the Toronto Raptors won an NBA title. There’s no evidence of Leonard saying “city views over interviews” anywhere, or what it could mean. Perhaps it’s a reference to his notorious shyness with the media.

Whatever the case, Leonard is being aggressive with his trademarks. Seems he’s keen to avoid any further business issues after the whole logo situation.

Watch: LeBron James has great reaction to Kawhi Leonard question

LeBron James

Why did Kawhi Leonard choose the LA Clippers over the Los Angeles Lakers? Don’t ask LeBron James.

LeBron was asked that question ahead of Tuesday night’s opener between the teams. He ended up giving a priceless response that is sure to turn into an internet meme. This was hilarious:

Seriously, great response from LeBron. How would he know? That is a question for Kawhi to answer!

And if you want to know the real answer, the biggest reason is because Kawhi wanted to play in LA but not be second to LeBron. He wanted to carve his own legacy. And he’s doing just that with the Clippers.

Kawhi Leonard booed hard at Clippers-Lakers game

Kawhi Leonard faced a harsh realization on Tuesday night that Los Angeles is very much a Lakers town before anything else.

Leonard spoke to the fans attending Tuesday’s opener between the Lakers and Clippers at Staples Center that was considered a home game for the Clippers (the two teams share a home arena). As Leonard spoke, he was booed by many of the Lakers fans in attendance.

Take a listen:

Leonard was also booed during introductions.

And he was booed while shooting free throws:

Lakers fans are mostly upset because Leonard chose to sign with the Clippers over them. The Lakers are used to being the team in town and getting the coveted free agents, so losing one to the Clippers is a major culture shock.

Leonard probably knew the boos were coming based on his appearance at a Rams game this season.

Kawhi Leonard slated to play preseason game in Canada, his first since leaving

Kawhi Leonard’s return to Canada will take place even earlier than expected.

LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said on Thursday that the star forward is scheduled to play in the team’s game in Vancouver next week, their final one of the preseason. The game will mark Leonard’s first back in Canada since leading the Toronto Raptors to the NBA title and subsequently leaving.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP made his preseason debut with the Clippers on Thursday, recording seven points and six assists in 11 minutes as the team fell to the Denver Nuggets by the final of 111-91.

While Vancouver is far away from Toronto, Leonard should still get a fairly warm reception from the Canadian fans when he makes his grand return, though it may not be a complete hero’s welcome.