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  • Michael Sanchez

Five Crazy Kawhi Leonard Theories

The Spurs have one foot out the door of the playoffs. They just don’t have enough firepower to keep up with the Golden State Warriors. They’re bringing Danny Green to a Kevin Durant fight, and the results have been ugly. How many LaMarcus Aldridge turn-around jumpers does it take to equal a Klay Thompson barrage of threes? The answer is not enough before Aldridge’s pivot foot starts drilling a hole in the court. If only they had a lockdown defender that could also provide a scoring punch on offense to counteract Golden State’s immense talent advantage. You know, a Kawhi Leonard-type.

Kawhi Leonard’s absence from the San Antonio Spurs has been the weirdest NBA story in recent memory. Before the season, if we were to vote for “Least Likely Rift Between a Franchise and Its Star Player”, it would probably be a slow news day. But Kawhi and the Spurs would have won in a landslide. That’s what makes this story so bizarre. No body part since Vincent van Gogh’s ear has generated more speculation than Kawhi’s right quad (and Markelle Fultz’s shoulder greatly appreciates that).

Perhaps Kawhi really is injured, and he’s just worried about jeopardizing the super-max contract he’s eligible for this summer. But then, why isn’t he with the team during the games? The optics are so bad already that if the two camps were on the same side, they would agree that an appearance by Kawhi on the bench would quell a lot of the media’s concerns. Maybe they don’t care. The Spurs run a tight ship and Kawhi’s “group” has been silent throughout the process, so all we can do speculate. So, let’s SPECULATE!

Kawhi is dating Yoko Ono.

If you look at some of the Spurs comments during this debacle, they seem more like jilted lovers than teammates:

  • There’s Manu Ginobili lamenting the loss of Kawhi for the season: “For me, he's not coming back, because it's not helping [to think Leonard is returning]. We fell for it a week ago again. I guess you guys made us fall for it.”

  • Then there’s Pau Gasol complaint that he never texts back. He claims that he occasionally texts some teammates “but leaves others in the dark”.

  • And don’t forget Tony Parker’s passive aggressiveness when he described his own quad injury as “a hundred times worse” as Kawhi’s.

I’ve always imagined the Spurs locker room to be somewhat like a monastery, and the players are all nuns. Sure, they can be in relationships. But no relationship is more important than the one with basketball (except for the one between Tony Parker and the rest of the players’ wives). Maybe Kawhi and Yoko started hooking up, and it left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth (including mine because I just threw up a bit). I imagine Yoko would come to practices and meetings to give her input. She thinks that Pop’s offense isn’t abstract enough and that players without the ball should flap their arms as they move to maximize the use of artistic space.

The aliens from Space Jam came and stole Kawhi’s talent.

Why haven’t there been any grainy videos of a gym in Poughkeepsie of Kawhi crossing over a chair? The internet was eating up videos of Gordon Hayward jogging around cones a few months ago as part of his rehab. Maybe Kawhi is fully healthy, but he’s been sapped of his basketball powers. The quad injury is just a cover until he can get them back. He’s in New York right now working with the Men in Black to try and solve the case. Has anyone checked Jrue Holiday’s house for a glowing basketball? He’s been playing out of this world lately. I’m not saying he’s an alien, but if an alien were to come to Earth and picked the name Drew, I’d imagine they’d spell it J-R-U-E.

Kawhi is actually a robot, and they can’t find the correct replacement part to fix him.

In last year’s playoffs, David Fizdale publicly outed Kawhi Leonard as a robot (something savvy NBA fans already knew). In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the Spurs raced to a 25-point lead which caused Kawhi’s hardware to overheat. After contracting IBM to create Kawhi in the first place, Popovich feared that other coaches would catch on, so he had the blueprints destroyed. In doing so, he’s left his IT depar-, I mean medical staff baffled as to how to fix him. His injured “quad” is actually referring to a quad-core computer processor. Kawhi is holed up at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in New York as some of the world’s brightest minds attempt to get him back online. The Spurs reached out to Elon Musk for help, but he lives in LA. Sources say he’s holding back on a solution in hopes of luring Kawhi to the Lakers next year.

Kawhi is performing a random act of athlete activism.

Random acts of athlete activism is not just a great potential band name, but they’ve been a trend in recent years. I love the fact that athletes are using the platform they’re given to raise awareness about injustices in the world. One issue that hasn’t gotten much play is the constant abuse of reporters by Gregg Popovich. These are innocent people that Popovich refuses to show any respect. Perhaps Kawhi is sensitive to the plight of the reporter. Since he isn’t as outspoken as LeBron, his way of effecting change is going on a playing strike until his head coach promises to improve the working conditions of post-game pressers.

Bonus theory: Did Kawhi vote for Donald Trump?

Along the lines of my theory above, this image was making the internet rounds last week:

This fake news quote is dribbling with so much irony that Coach Pop just yelled at it to pass the ball. This theory has since been debunked, but I wanted it to be true just for the entertainment value. If Kawhi did feel this way, I think there would be better ways to take a stand. Instead of kneeling for the national anthem, he could do the opposite and stand on a chair so he was taller than everyone else (closer to God, if you will). He could wear a MAGA shirt during warmups. He could build a wall of Gatorade cups between him and Pop on the bench. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES!

Of course, none of these theories are true (except maybe the Space Jam one, let’s get someone to look into that). In my mind, the most likely scenario is that Kawhi’s people are advising him to be extra cautious especially after what happened to Isaiah Thomas after he played through an injury last year. The Spurs ultimate goal is to compete for a championship which means getting their best player back as soon as possible. These desires are at odds with each other which is the source of the friction.

A lot of teams are going to inquire about the availability of Kawhi this summer as they should. But with how the saga has gone down, there’s no way that the Spurs will get even close to equal value for him. I think when it’s all said and done, Coach Pop will have a sit down with Kawhi, they’ll come to a mutual understanding, and Kawhi will sign his 200+ million-dollar extension this summer. Things looked bad last year between the Spurs and LaMarcus Aldridge too, and then Aldridge had one of the best seasons of his career. That’s what Pop and the Spurs do. They fix things (just not robots). I fully expect them to fix this situation too.

RIP Erin Popovich. My thoughts and condolences are with Gregg Popovich and his family. I wish them the best through this difficult time.

#MichaelSanchez #Spurs #KawhiLeonard #NBA #NBAPlayoffs2018 #SpursPlayoffs

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