The man who led the Toronto Raptors to Canada’s first-ever NBA championship win last year is still a Fun Guy — some of the time, at least.
Kawhi Leonard is spending the weekend in Chicago at the NBA All-Star Weekend, where he’s playing on LeBron James’s team. That pits him against former teammates and current Raptors Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry, who are playing on the team headed by the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo.
It was easy to forget any potential tension between former teammates when Leonard was introduced to the crowd on Saturday. He walked out to Nipsey Hussle’s “Last Time That I Checc’d” with a student from Chicago Scholars, a nonprofit group that works with first-generation university students from some of the city’s under-resourced communities.
And for some reason — maybe because he wanted to, or maybe because the spirit just moved him — he started dancing. Not just any dancing, but endearing dad-style dancing. There’s a shoulder shimmy and some toe pointing, and it’s fairly adorable. There’s even a faint smile towards the end!
It’s nice to see Leonard return to his Fun Guy roots. But he wouldn’t be Kawhi without a dash of stoic disinterest, which was on quick display when he had to do something he’s never seemed to love doing: answering reporters’ questions.
When one reporter asked what he had for dinner that night — not a particularly important question, but the kind reporters sometimes ask for some colour — Leonard replied, exasperatedly, “That’s not of concern, man.”
Did he refuse to answer the question because his dinner consisted of 12 apples eaten with a knife and fork? That joke made the rounds on Twitter last spring to parody just how odd and idiosyncratic Board Man could be. He likely did not eat a dozen apples for supper, but it’s fun to speculate that he might want to keep that rumour alive.
Later, the former Raptors player sat down with NBA commentators for a longer interview. The questions were all specific to his game, with no mention of food, and Leonard seemed patient the whole time. When it was over, though, one of the reporters joked that maybe this was something they could do every day. “No, no, no,” Leonard said, as they all laughed.
Fame and success can change people, and in some cases, winning two NBA championships and becoming a hero to an entire country would cause some personality shifts. But it’s good to see that Kawhi’s particular blend of quiet talent mixed with sometimes blunt awkwardness, along with the rare glimpse of something pure and joyful, is still going strong.
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