SAN ANTONIO — Kawhi Leonard has had two incredible performances in consecutive contests to help put his Spurs up three games to one on the defending champion Heat, and within one game of winning an NBA title.
Leonard may be the first name mentioned in the Finals MVP conversation, along with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and even Boris Diaw, because that’s just how balanced this San Antonio team is.
But given his reserved nature, he couldn’t even pretend to care about an individual achievement that is far from certain, and with so much at stake.
“It doesn’t mean nothing to me,” Leonard said at Saturday’s media availability at the Spurs practice facility. “Just try to go out and win the next game, and that’s all I’m doing.”
Leonard comes across as incredibly calm, focused and professional considering the way he’s proven capable of playing on the game’s biggest stage at such a young age. He speaks mostly in a monotone and at a predictable pace, but his emotionless responses to reporters’ questions aren’t given out of some kind of disdain for the process.
Instead, he just seems completely dialed in at accomplishing the task at hand.
On what the anticipation is like heading into Game 5, when the championship is within reach:
“It feels the same for me as any game going into it,” Leonard said. “All I’m thinking about is playing. I’m not worried about if we win or lose, and we just want to go out and play.”
On whether or not he allows himself to feel a sense of happiness or satisfactions privately after turning in performances like he has over the past two games:
“No,” he said. “I mean, because those are not my expectations. I’m trying to win a championship, and until we win, that’s when I’ll be satisfied.”
You get the idea.
The Spurs have a gem in Leonard, an amazing player with a seemingly limitless ceiling who fits perfectly into San Antonio’s team-first culture. And San Antonio’s long-tenured leader in Tim Duncan wouldn’t change a thing about him.
“That’s his nature,” Duncan said. “That’s how he is. You let your play, you let your game, you let your winning do your talking.
“I’ve never said anything to Kawhi about how he carries himself. That’s how he chooses to carry himself. He doesn’t talk to us, so I’m guessing he’s not going to go out there and talk to anybody else.”