Kawhi Leonard’s final year with San Antonio Spurs was a communication-less, drama-filled rollercoaster that franchise legend David Robinson couldn’t even break. On ESPN’s The Jump, Robinson told Rachel Nichols that even he couldn’t get in touch with Leonard, only his uncle.
David Robinson tells me Kawhi Leonard’s departure from San Antonio is “one of the oddest situations I’ve seen since I’ve been in pro basketball." He says he tried to reach out to Kawhi several times in recent months, but never got an answer back. pic.twitter.com/k4mNiqGxQM— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 23, 2018
Robinson: It’s one of the oddest situations I’ve seen I think since I’ve been in pro basketball. He’s a hard guy to understand, a hard guy to read. In San Antonio we have a reputation for taking care of our players almost too much, people criticize us for sitting our guy down. Now, all a sudden we have a guy who says he felt pressured to play, which is tough. What can you do? We typically don’t risk our players health but if a guy’s not happy he has to go somewhere where he can play. I think Pop [head coach Gregg Popovich] and RC [GM RC Buford] did a pretty good job of meeting our needs for the future. I think we’ll move on from here I think we’re pretty happy with the deal and we’ll grow and get better.
Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday in a deal involving DeMar DeRozan. Though media are yet to speak with him, the team posted a picture of the forward in his new team’s gear.
It’s odd to hear about a star player not speaking with a respected legend of their franchise, but this holds up with everything we know about Kawhi: He doesn’t speak much. Robinson elaborated on how few words he’s spoken with him since Leonard joined the team in 2011.
Robinson: Has anybody spoken to Kawhi about this? [laughs] I talked to his uncle. He’s a hard guy, he’s quiet. I’ve reached out to him a couple of times and never heard back from him. I think the whole time he’s been here I’ve spoken to him a handful of times and I can count on one hand how many words he’s said to me, so he’s just a quiet guy and I think that’s made made it difficult for all parties to understand each other in this process.
This isn’t the first time Robinson’s spoken out about the Leonard situation. Last month, before Kawhi was traded, Robinson voiced his opinion that Leonard needed to communicate himself.
“I think for Kawhi, it’s about growing up,” Robinson said on ESPN’s Get Up!, “Right? You step into that responsibility, man, you’re the face of the franchise. You can’t not talk, right? You’ve got to let people hear your voice, not somebody else’s.”
The Kawhi saga is far from over, even after he’s been traded. Maybe the whole truth will never be told, but pieces are bound to leak out somehow. Even if a legend like David Robinson’s been left in the dark.