Some athletes thrive to not only be great at their sport, but also to be a celebrity of the game. You have these athletes appearing in commercials for a brand they endorse, making a scene during a game, getting into Twitter feuds or driving around in flashy cars. But, to Kawhi Leonard, he has no interest in becoming anything more than the greatest NBA player he can be.
“Not a star, a superstar. Right up there with LeBron, Steph Curry and all those other guys.” Shaq on Inside the NBA
In a fantastic piece from Sport’s Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins, we learn of Leonard’s driven and “no nonsense” attitude towards the game he loves. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told Jenkins that Leonard was “as serious as a heart attack” when he had his first meeting with him. Since that meeting, his attitude has not wavered. While his teammates walk into the stadium with the designer headphones, custom suits and jewelry, Leonard is walking in wearing your average jeans and hoodie. “He loves the game,” Popovich told Jenkins. “He ignores the rest of it.”
In his daily life, Leonard’s game-time attitude remains. He spends his summers in his two-bedroom San Diego apartment and travelling with a backpack packed with a basketball for spontaneous pick ups. To travel, despite his $94 million contract, he often finds himself behind the wheel of his 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe, which he appropriately named “Gas Guzzler.” According to the article, Leonard explains that “it runs and it’s paid off.”
Even though he has been award with multiple titles, like the 2014 Finals MVP and 2015 Defensive Player of the Year, he still focuses on just the game itself and nothing more. His celebrity status and endorsements are minimal, aside from the one from Wingstop that provides him with free wing coupons. Leonard knows he has a job to do and a goal in his mind, and he puts his blood, sweat and tears into getting it all done. If you’ve ever wanted an inspiration for getting work done, you can’t go wrong with Kawhi Leonard.