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Kawhi: the introvert’s champ

For the person who last year looked at the best organization in American sports and said goodbye to all that, this is quite the redemption story.

Labeled a quitter on a one-year layover in Toronto on his way to Los Angeles, Kawhi Leonard the mercenary now has his team one win away from the NBA Finals after last night’s 35-point, seven-rebound, nine-assist Game 5 105-99 win over the Bucks, in which he outdueled Giannis on offense and limited him on defense.

[WATCH: Kawhi Leonard Game 5 full highlights]

He has won us back, to be sure, and what makes that fact so funny is that he’s done it without a peep. He never apologized for edging his way out of San Antonio. Never blamed Uncle Dennis. Never made any claims about who he is as a player. And he’s reached the brink of the sport’s pinnacle with a consistent limp.

Remember when LeBron James left last year’s final press conference, suddenly wearing a cast? That type of PR play doesn’t exist in Kawhi’s world. There won’t be any appearances on The Shop for Mr. Leonard.

Few people can do what he does on a basketball court, and yet, there he is, so indifferently at peace with what he’s morphed into.

We all want the answers to his greatness. Kawhi certainly does not have those. He wants to keep those quizzes short and sweet.

And so, perhaps, should we, for a few reasons.

For one, we aren’t those poor beat writers tasked with trying to wrangle something, anything, out of Kawhi. (Last night, he was asked how his team can beat Milwaukee four times in a row, to which he answered: I don’t know. I haven’t done it.)

It’s also just important to appreciate his march toward stamping his independent greatness, while accepting we’ll never know what the hell is going on in his head.

[READ: Kawhi Leonard is the most earnest athlete in sports]


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