On Tuesday’s episode of JJ Redick's podcast “The Old Man and the Three,” Redick’s guest Tyrese Haliburton spoke of LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard’s superhuman strength on the defensive end. The Sacramento Kings guard recalls one of his first matchups with the Clippers, in which Leonard was able to move Haliburton with ease once he decided to check him.
“Kawhi’s like ‘yo, I got him,’” Haliburton recalls. “So I come to get a dribble-hand-off, and his hand is on my hip, and I’m at the three-point line I think. And I get the hand-off, and I look down and I’m at the logo. I’m like ‘I don’t even know how I got out here.’ I think he pushed me. It’s crazy how strong these guys are.”
It’s a great story, but not a surprise given Leonard’s pedigree. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year is known across the league as one of the most terrifying perimeter sharks out there. His unique combination of strength, agility, athleticism and, of course, those giant hands (recently featured in Drake’s “Way 2 Sexy” music video) make him a menace for any opposing ball-handler.
Haliburton, who finished third in Rookie of the Year voting last season behind LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards, should take it as a sign of respect that Leonard would elect to guard him, during a regular season game no less. It must’ve been quite the “welcome to the NBA” moment for him, though it’s definitely preferable to getting dunked on.