Kawhi Leonard Statement, the Spurs and Conspiracy Theories - Sports Illustrated

Kawhi Leonard Conspiracy Theories and Superstar Equity

Due to the fact that Kawhi Leonard is one of the NBA's biggest superstars, his absence from the Spurs lineup has sparked a lot of talk. The Open Floor crew offer its own conspiracy theories.
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Rumors have swirled around Kawhi Leonard for most of the NBA season, as he has struggled through injury issues and rumors of a rift between the star and Spurs brass have risen to the surface. He recently spoke out to bring a close to those reports, professing his love for the Spurs, Gregg Popovich and San Antonio. What do Andrew Sharp and Ben Golliver believe is really happening here? They expressed their opinions on the latest episode of the Open Floor podcast

Check out the full episode here and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. (The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity).

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Andrew Sharp: There’s been enough buzz around Kawhi that it reminds of Durant when he switched to Roc Nation like a year or two before he left Oklahoma City. Whoever is advising him and is around him every day, that mix seems like it’s changed somehow because there’s just been too much so quickly. There’s got to be something else going on.

Ben Golliver: Well, I hate to point this out again, but earlier this season you scoffed at me when I mentioned, ‘Imagine if you’re Kawhi’s marketing guy. How are you feeling about how this injury thing has been playing out? You’re trying to have him take it to the next level.’ Low and behold, three months later we get the Jordan Brand extension talks have stalled, he believes he’s worth MVP money. Look, it’s a real thing, it affects everyone even quiet superstars have people around them who want to maximize their earning potential while you can get it. It’s a very limited shelf life. It applies to everyone across the board.

For Kawhi, I think we should say this in the midst of all this conspiracy talk, he played a lot of it down this week. He basically said I’m on the same page with Pop, I want to retire a Spur. Said all the types of things Spurs fans have been waiting months to hear. But when there’s smoke there’s fire, and I think that applies to the Spurs as well as any other NBA organization.

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Sharp: I have two responses. No 1: I think what I was making fun of more than anything was Kawhi’s marketing guy and how impossible that job would feel sometimes, because Kawhi has basically turned down every opportunity until like nine months ago when he decided to start doing Jordan commercials.

But the quote from him this week was the first time I was like, ‘Oh, this guy is really going to leave.’ It just brought back flashbacks of Boogie being like, ‘I want to get my jersey retired by the Kings.’ Every major guy who’s left—I think Paul George was talking about being committed to being a Pacer—has proclaimed their loyalty over the last five years, and so I don’t know. I’m sure Spurs fans are no less anxious here.