The exit of Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs has revealed just how much of a difficulty the organization had in managing its former star player. David Robinson, a legend of the organization and retired athlete, took to the The Jump on ESPN with Rachel Nichols to explain the difficulty.
“He really, he’s a hard guy…He’s just quiet; he doesn’t…I’ve reached out to him several times and just never hear anything back from him.”
“I think the whole time he’s been here [in San Antonio], I’ve talked to him maybe a handful of times, and I can count on one hand how many words he’s really said to me. So he’s just a quiet guy, and I think that that’s made it difficult, I think, for all parties to really understand each other in this process.”
“I mean, it’s one of the oddest situations I think I’ve seen since I’ve been in pro basketball. He’s a hard guy to understand. He’s a hard guy to read.”
David Robinson tells me Kawhi Leonard’s departure from San Antonio is “one of the oddest situations I’ve seen since I’ve been in pro basketball.” He says he tried to reach out to Kawhi several times in recent months, but never got an answer back. pic.twitter.com/k4mNiqGxQM
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 23, 2018
Robinson also debunked the rumors that the Spurs were inconsiderate of Leonard’s injury, citing the organization’s reputation for resting its players to the extent that they often get criticized for it.
“San Antonio, we obviously have a reputation for taking care of our players, almost too much, I mean, people criticize us for sitting guys down. Now all of the sudden, you know, we’ve got a guy who says he felt pressure to play. Which is, you know, tough; I mean, what can you do?”
Robinson implied, however, that Leonard was probably not just happy being in San Antonio and playing for the organization anymore.
“We typically don’t risk our players’ health. But if a guy’s not happy, he’s got to go somewhere where he can play, and I think Coach Pop and R.C. Buford and our team did a pretty good job of kind of meeting our needs for the future. I think we’ll move on from here. I think we’re pretty happy with the deal and we’ll continue to grow and get better.”
Unable to convince Leonard to stay in San Antonio after he demanded a trade, the Spurs sent him along with Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, a 2019 protected first-round pick and Jakob Poeltl.
Robinson who was a ten-time All-Star in a 14-year NBA career, all with the Spurs, and inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 said Leonard was just hard to figure out and there was no easy way around it.
When Nichols asked if anyone in particular had spoken to Leonard about his exit situation from San Antonio, Robinson retorted: “You know, I mean, I talked to his uncle. I mean, does that count?”