Kawhi Leonard on Gregg Popovich leadership criticism: 'It's funny to me'

By Scooby Axson
November 26, 2018

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard responded to criticism about his leadership levied by San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, saying that the comments were "funny to me".

On Saturday, Popovich, who coached Leonard for the first seven seasons of his career before he was traded in the offseason, was asked about guard Patty Mills' leadership now that Leonard was shipped out of town, the retirement of Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker leaving via free agency.

"Kawhi was a great player, but he wasn't a leader or anything," Popovich said. "Manu and Patty were the leaders. Kawhi's talent will always be missed, but that leadership wasn't his deal at that time."

Leonard said he heard about the comments and said that he leads by example.

"It's just funny to me because, you know, I don't know if he's talking about last year or not, but I guess when you stop playing they forget how you lead," Leonard said. "Other than that, it doesn't matter. I'm here with the Raptors. My focus is on the season and not what's going on the other side."

Leonard, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and All-NBA First Team selection, has guided the Raptors to the Eastern Conference's best record.

"Just going hard and coming into these games mentally focused," Leonard said when continuing to address the leadership comments. "You can't see things once you're playing on the floor. Guys ask me questions about their matchup or if I see something on the floor, I'm telling guys, 'Go here, go there,' just motivating people, do you know what I mean?"

In 14 games this season, Leonard is averaging 24.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. He also received the first regular season technical foul of his career in Toronto's win against the Miami Heat on Sunday.

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