In a recent statement, NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard made it clear that he remains steadfast in his commitment to play basketball whenever he is physically able to do so. His resolute stance comes in the midst of the NBA’s new player participation policy, which aims to encourage All-Star and elite players to be more active on the court. Let’s delve into the details surrounding Leonard’s determination and what this means for the NBA.
Kawhi Leonard and the New NBA Policy
Leonard, who currently plays for the Los Angeles Clippers, has been at the forefront of discussions surrounding the NBA’s new player participation policy, which is set to take effect in the upcoming season. This policy encourages star players to play more frequently, a departure from Leonard’s previous approach.
A History of Load Management
During his time with the Toronto Raptors, Leonard became synonymous with the practice of "load management." This strategy involved carefully managing his playing time, particularly when he was recovering from a leg injury. Notably, this approach helped Leonard lead the Raptors to an NBA championship in 2019.
Even after his move to the Clippers, the team continued to be cautious about managing Leonard’s workload. This was particularly important given his history of injuries, including tearing the meniscus in his right knee in April during a playoff series against the Phoenix Suns, just two years after tearing the ACL in the same knee.
Kawhi’s Initial Reaction
Speaking at the team’s media day, Leonard admitted that he was initially unaware of the new rules imposed by the NBA. However, when presented with an example by a reporter, he clarified his stance, stating, "I’m not a guy that’s sitting down because I’m doing load management. Well, when I was with the Raptors, it was different. Like, I was coming off an injury. And you have to know the details from the doctor."
A Determined Leonard
Kawhi Leonard’s unwavering commitment to playing the game is evident in his words: "But if the league is seeing or trying to mock what I did with the Raptors, it should stop because I was injured during that whole year. But other than that if I’m able to play, I’ll play basketball. I work out every day in the summertime to play the game not to sit and watch people play. So no league policy is helping me to play more games."
Paul George’s Perspective
Paul George, Leonard’s teammate on the Clippers, also shared his views on player participation. George, who is returning from a knee injury that ended his previous season prematurely, expressed his sense of obligation to play as often as possible.
George stated, "Absolutely. It just comes down to the guys that you’re out there with and obviously the fans. So, yeah, I 100% agree with the obligation that you should play." He acknowledged the complexities surrounding injuries and the importance of making smart decisions, but emphasized his eagerness to be on the court when healthy.
Kawhi Leonard’s commitment to playing basketball whenever he is physically able is unwavering. Despite the NBA’s new player participation policy, Leonard remains dedicated to the game. His history of load management and injury recovery has shaped his perspective, and he’s ready to contribute whenever he’s fit for action. As the NBA season unfolds, all eyes will be on Leonard and his determination to lead the Clippers to success.
In summary, Kawhi Leonard says, "If I’m able to play, I’ll play basketball," echoing his enduring passion for the sport and his commitment to his team and fans.
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