Last night in Philly, the defending champion San Antonio Spurs notched a 109-103 victory over the hapless Sixers, thanks to a clutch late bucket from reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. After the game, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich admitted to the media that he’s told Leonard to be more aggressive and take on a larger role as the team’s go-to guy. Why?
Because, in Pop’s words to Kawhi, “The Big Three, they’re older than dirt. To hell with them. You’re the Big One.” The full quote, from Michael Lee of The Washington Post:
Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich had no choice but to give Leonard the chance to come through for the team with his more seasoned options sidelined. But he wants Leonard to start making performances like Monday night – when he matched his regular season career-high with 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds – more of a regular occurrence with Duncan, Parker and Ginobili around and against more formidable competition.
“We’re trying to loosen up a bit and give him more of a green light,” Popovich said. “He’s getting more license. When you’re a young kid, you’re going to defer to Timmy and Manu and [Tony]. Now it’s like, ‘To heck with those guys. The Big Three, they’re older than dirt. To hell with them. You’re the Big One. You’ve got to go do your deal.’ So, we’re trying to get him to be more demonstrative in that regard.”