It is no secret that NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard has struggled with injuries for a large part of his career. However, this season, coming off of his second NBA championship, and as the new face of the Los Angeles Clippers, Kawhi has decided to sit some games out, in what the Clippers have named “load management,” which to me, is nonsense.
When we examine the legends of basketball, hustle and longevity are characteristics often brought up. MJ’s “flu game” and his persistence to play is what many point out as one of his most defining “GOAT” moments. LeBron’s stamina is what separates him from other stars (yes, I’m talking about Kevin Durant) who have failed to be as consistent and dominant over long periods of time as LBJ himself. What never is brought up in the legacy of the greats is how well they “rested” and “managed their playing time.” That is because no great player has those characteristics; great players will leave blood, sweat, and tears on the court every night, regardless of if they played the night before or if they are playing a bad team that they will beat anyways. Kawhi’s mentality about load management, I believe, will only hurt his legacy down the road.
In order to prevent myself from rambling on, I will leave Kawhi with this: the all-time greats worked and worked and put their bodies and their hearts on the court every night. They were the reason that their team won a game, they were there for all 82 games, not just when they were in the mood to play. I understand that the regular season is irrelevant and that the Clippers will have no trouble making it to the playoffs regardless of how many games Kawhi plays. My concern is not for the Clippers, but for Kawhi himself, who is digging his legacy into a hole by prioritizing his wishes to be on the court as opposed to dedication to the fans, the team, and the love of playing basketball. So, Kawhi, I ask you: are you a good player, or are you a great player? You’ll have to play to find out.
(Photo Credit: LA Times)