The Los Angeles Clippers were the talk of the offseason after bringing in superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Kawhi wanted to go home. George wanted to go home. Both got what they wanted via free agency and one huge trade. The two superstars are apparently used to getting what they want, and that ultimately led to their downfall in the 2020 playoffs. Chemistry issues sprung from the preferable treatment of the two superstars, which sank the Clippers in the locker room and then the court, The Athletic reported Wednesday.
The report first states Kawhi’s routine before games, which included using private areas to warmup and prepare. This sometimes meant taking of the locker room used for female staffers for himself. Multiple players, coaches and staff were aware of Leonard’s treatment and some of them did not take kindly to it, per the report. We all know that Leonard is a very quiet, private person and because of his talent, he’s able to get what he wants most of the time. This quote from the story really resonates:
“What were they going to do about it?” one league source told The Athletic’s Jovan Buha. “It’s Kawhi.”
Indeed, it is Kawhi, a three-time NBA champion, Defensive Player of the Year winner, All-Star and Finals MVP. Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA and we all know how star players are treated in the League: Like royalty. This isn’t a knock on Kawhi. You can’t blame him. But you also have to realize — if you’re Kawhi — the effect that it has on others around you.
The Clippers denied some of the details of the report, per The Athletic. Mostly that staff and coaches were dismissed out of the locker room so that Kawhi and the training staff could have privacy. The Clippers chemistry issues were cited as the reason the team blew a 3-1 lead in their second-round series against the Denver Nuggets in the bubble. I don’t think that’s the entire picture. The Nuggets had done the same thing to the Utah Jazz in the previous round. The difference between the Jazz and Clippers, however, is Kawhi and George.
The Athletic lists some of the perks that George and Kawhi received that other players did not. Here’s some of the details:
— Kawhi and PG had their own personal security guards and trainers.
— Leonard and George had control over practice schedules and travel.
— Kawhi was allowed to live in San Diego and commute to Los Angeles, which if you’re familiar with geography, isn’t exactly ideal.
— Leonard and George had more control over when they talked to media.
— Players also believed that both stars were able to pick when they played. If you remember, Leonard sat out a handful of games last season for the ever-popular phrase “load management.”