So close! Kawhi Leonard played the game of his life on June 10, but the Toronto Raptors lost by one point against the Warriors, going to a game six in the NBA finals. We’ve got five things to know about him.
The Toronto Raptors had been a solid team in the NBA’s Eastern Conference for several seasons. But it took the 2018-19 season arrival of Kawhi Leonard, 27, in a trade from the San Antonio Spurs to take the team to the next level and lead them to their first NBA finals in team history. During June 10’s game 5, He took the team on a 10 straight point run in the fourth quarter, as the Raptors led 103-97, when coach Nick Nurse inexplicably called a time out, killing their momentum and allowing the Warriors to come creeping back to a 106-105 win. Kawhi could have scored the game winner but had two guys on him and in the final second passed the ball to Kyle Lowry in the corner, who missed the title-winning shot. We’ve got five things to know about Kawhi as the Raptors head into game six against the Warriors on June 13.
1. Kawhi spent his first seven years in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs.
In his time in Texas, he won an NBA championship in 2014 and was named the series’ Most Valuable Player. At 22, he was the youngest player since Magic Johnson to earn that accomplishment. He asked for a trade after their 2018 season, reportedly over his injury rehabilitation process with the team after the season prior where he suffered a right quadriceps injury followed by a shoulder injury and reportedly felt pressured by the Spurs to play when he wasn’t fully rehabilitated.
2, Kawhi is nicknamed “The Claw.”
He got the handle for his incredible defensive skills, which earned him the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for two consecutive years in 2015 and 2016.
3. Kawhi was born in LA into a family of seven.
Kawhi is the youngest child in his family, having four older sisters. He played high school hoops at Martin Luther King High in LA as a transfer in from Canyon Springs High in Moreno Valley, CA. He was later named Mr. California Basketball his senior year. In his spare time growing up he would help his dad Mike out at his car wash.
Kawhi Leonard was asked why he didn't take the last shot:
"I mean…two guys came up on me….I don't know if I could've got a shot off…" pic.twitter.com/qXsf7dllUh
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) June 11, 2019
4. Kawhi still used coupons at fast food restaurants when he was a multimillionaire NBA star.
He’s an avid fan of Wingstop and freaked out when he lost his coupons in March of 2016. The fast food chain — one of only six Twitter accounts Kawhi followed at the time tweeted out, “He is happy to sponsor Wingstop, which sends him coupons for free wings, so he can feed his Mango Habanero addiction. This winter, after his $94 million contract kicked in, he panicked when he lost his coupons. Wingstop generously replenished his supply.”
5. When he made $16 million a season in 2016 with the Spurs, Kawhi still drove a nearly 20-year-old car.
Kawhi continued to drive his high school ride, a “rehabbed” 1997 Chevy Tahoe he got while attending Canyon Springs High. “It runs … and it’s paid off,” the multimillionaire athlete told Sports Illustrated. in March of 2016. He does own a Porsche though.