Kawhi Leonard: ‘When You Stop Playing They Forget How You Lead’

Kawhi Leonard found former coach Gregg Popovich‘s comments on his lack of leadership qualities amusing.

Leonard says Pop must’ve forgotten all that he brings to the table since he missed much of last season due to injuries.

Kawhi on Pop’s comments: “It’s just funny to me. I don’t know if he’s talking about last year or not. I guess when you stop playing they forget how you lead… It doesn’t matter. I’m here with the Raptors and I’m focused on the season and not what’s going on on the other side.”

Kawhi on his leadership style: “I lead by example. Coming into practice everyday just going hard and coming into these games mentally focused. You can’t see things once you’re playing on the floor – guys ask me questions about their matchup, or if I see something on the floor I’m telling guys ‘go here, go there’. Just motivating people, you know what I mean? I just try to lift people’s spirits on the floor. That’s about it. Just don’t try to get nobody too down and just lift them up.”

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse says Leonard leads in his own, quiet fashion.

Per the Toronto Star:

Nurse begged to differ before Sunday’s date with the Heat, commenting on Leonard’s “surprising” leadership since he was acquired for DeMar DeRozan in July.

“He just did a few little things in training camp, as far as getting some guys to go to the gym with him early. He opened up one of his shooting times pre-game to let (in) another guy that didn’t feel he was getting enough time … Just some little, I think, neat things that say a lot about a guy,” Nurse said. “He does it quietly, but they’re leadership things to me.”

Danny Green, who arrived in the same trade, said last month that his longtime teammate has become more vocal north of the border.

“Different system, new identity,” Green said. “He’s older here. There’s a lot of young guys who look up to him, respect him.”

Gregg Popovich: Kawhi Leonard ‘Was a Great Player, But He Wasn’t a Leader’