Home / What it do with Luepage 194

What it do with Lue

For Kawhi Leonard, Perseverance Is His Biggest Accomplishment

Christian Petersen/Getty Images ANAHEIM, Calif. — On its surface, the story does not make sense.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
ANAHEIM, Calif. — On its surface, the story does not make sense.

Kawhi Leonard needed someone to drive him? Leonard, a 6-foot-7, do-everything talent for San Diego Statewhom his coaching staff and teammates hail as the Aztecs’ most tireless worker and the man behind the wheel of their historic N.C.A.A.tournament journey, could not drive himself?

Not exactly. But in what has become a comical subplot to the tale of a player who is one of the topN.B.A. prospects in the tournament, Leonard’s basketball career was once threatened by an inability to secure transportation.

“The coach wouldn’t let me play when I was a freshman,” Leonard said by telephone this week of his first year at Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, Calif. “I missed the tryouts, and I sent him an e-mail saying why and how my mom was out of town and I couldn’t get a ride over there. He knew I was a good player, but he just didn’t want me to play.”

Inspiration, however, is hardly in short supply for Leonard, a 19-year-old sophomore forward.

The memories of his father, Mark Leonard, and how he was shot to death at the age of 43 at his Compton car wash in 2008, remain agonizing and persistent. Yet as the shy and wary Leonard deals with the tournament hype, questions about his father keep coming.

He answers them all respectfully, making clear how much he wishes his father was still part of his life instead of part of his bio. No, he does not want to know the identity of the killer, who was never found. Yes, he misses those weekend days scrubbing cars with his father, with whom he did not live but with whom he spoke every day.

Leonard started playing basketball as a sophomore at Canyon Springs, then transferred toMartin Luther King High in Riverside as a junior and was named Mr. Basketball for California as a senior. The night after his father’s death, he scored 17 points for Riverside King in a loss to Compton Dominguez. Those in attendance saw him burst into tears afterward in the arms of his mother, Kim Robertson.

Those who came to know him later would see the same penchant for perseverance.

“Kawhi has had to deal with more stresses in his life than most at a young age, and he has managed to do that, to do it in his own way, and to do it with his head held high,” Aztecs Coach Steve Fisher said. “He is soft-spoken, quiet off the court, and someone who is filled with the burning desire to compete, improve and win, and he has done that everywhere he has been.”

The next challenge comes Thursday when No. 2 seed San Diego State (34-2) takes on No. 3 Connecticut (28-9) in the West Regional.

The Aztecs had never won an N.C.A.A. tournament game until this year, but victories over Northern Colorado and Temple have them wanting more and have Leonard thinking twice about his future.

There were already plenty of accolades on his résumé, from the back-to-back Mountain West conference tournament titles to his selection by Sporting News as a second-team all-American. But Leonard, who has yet to decide if he will enter the N.B.A. draft in June despite being widely projected as a late lottery or mid-first-round selection, said the fun of the tournament might affect his thinking.

“It’s tempting to come back,” said Leonard, who is averaging 15.6 points and 10.6 rebounds a game. “People like to have a winning team. It makes you want to keep playing.

“My family doesn’t need the money right now. We’re not starving, hungry, living poor. It will be nice to have a lot of money, but I think my family could hold out two more years if I play through my senior year.”

He no longer wants for transportation as he once did. And as Leonard has shown, he will be the one picking his path.


Monta Ellis To Opt Out Of Deal

Monta Ellis has informed the Milwaukee Bucks that he will opt out of the last year of his deal, according to league sources.

Monta Ellis has informed the Milwaukee Bucks that he will opt out of the last year of his deal, according to league sources.

Ellis, who had one year, $11 million left on his contract, will become one of the most coveted free agents on the market this summer.

Sources say the Atlanta HawksDallas Mavericksand the Los Angeles Lakers have interest in Ellis, although the Lakers could get Ellis only via an unlikely sign-and-trade deal.

Ellis, who originally signed a six-year, $66 million deal with the Golden State Warriors, is close with Lakers free agent Dwight Howard. The two have long desired to play together.

If Howard cannot achieve his top goal of playing with Chris Paul, teaming up with Ellis may become an option he would strongly consider.

Ellis’ goal in signing his original deal was to give him the flexibility to become a free agent in his prime.

The Bucks reportedly had offered Ellis a two-year, $24 million extension earlier this month, but the offer was contingent on him not opting out of the final season of his contract.

Ellis led the Bucks with 19.2 points per game in the regular season, his eighth in the NBA after being drafted by the Warriors 40th overall in 2005.


By Chris Broussard | ESPN The Magazine

Heat vs. Spurs, Game 5: Danny Green’s 3-Point Barrage Again Sparks San Antonio

USA TODAY Sports Spurs shooting guard Danny Green made six more 3-pointers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, bringing his series total up to 25, a new record.

Spurs shooting guard Danny Green made six more 3-pointers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, bringing his series total up to 25, a new record.

The bright lights of a first NBA Finals can often prove to be too much for a young player, something that seemed evident when James Harden faced the Miami Heat last season. That has not been the case for Danny Green, who has burned the Heat time and time again in his first Finals appearance.

Green continued his remarkable shooting display in the Spurs‘ 114-104 Game 5 victory over the Heat, scoring 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting and 6-of-10 from three. Green’s fourth three of the game in the third quarter gave him 23 for the series, which broke Ray Allen’sprevious NBA Finals record of 22 3-point makes in a series, a fact that Green didn’t even realize at the time.

“I had no idea,” Green said. “After the game today, I found out. I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to be on this stage. My teammates have done a great job of finding me and getting me open. Seems everything is going right for me. I’m feeling truly blessed right now. It’s got to be a higher power. The basketball gods are in our favor right now.”

Following his 6-of-10 effort on Sunday, Green is now 25-of-38 from three in the series, which is good for 65.8 percent. This has been a breakout series in a season that has seen Green become a permanent member of San Antonio’s starting lineup, which is impressive considering he was in the D-League just two years ago.

“The whole season has made him more confident,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s somebody who has gotten a lot of minutes. He basically has the green light. When you do it for 82 games, the last thing to see is if he can do it when the real lights are on. He’s certainly answered that question.”


By Jason Patt on Jun 17 2013, 8:00a