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Penny Hardaway: “Kawhi Leonard is not a superstar”


Update: Hardaway was misquoted.

At his peak, Penny Hardaway’s off-the-court presence may have been bigger than his game — and his game was big. Three-time All-NBA player, four-time All-Star, part of a one-two punch with a young Shaquille O’Neal that had the Magic as title contenders.

Still, talk about Hardaway and you end up talking about the ‘Lil Penny commercials and the shoes — Hardaway was a break-out NBA star known by non-hoops fans because of his off-the-court persona.

It is from that perspective Hardaway comes. He was on the Sirius XM’s NBA Radio show “Bottomline” and was asked about Kawhi Leonard (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“Superstar? No. Kawhi Leonard is not a superstar because he has no interest in being the face of the league or starring in TV commercials. He’s a good player, but I wouldn’t consider him a superstar player.”

The first reaction of hoops fans will be “are you kidding me?” Leonard is an MVP candidate, franchise cornerstone, best two-way player in the NBA according to Michael Jordan, champion and finals MVP.

However, Hardaway is right in the sense that Leonard limits how big his personal brand can be because he doesn’t promote it. Heck, not sure he even cares that much about it. If you define superstar by off-the-court persona, then maybe Leonard isn’t your guy. Leonard is not Stephen Curry showing up in ads all the time, he’s not LeBron James and his media projects, he’s no Jeremy Lin on social media.

Nor does Leonard want to be — and he doesn’t have to be. Leonard does have some sweet Jordan brand commercials, but not ones where he speaks. He does talk a little in those Spurs HEB ads, but that’s about it. He doesn’t want to be front-and-center that way. That’s just who he is. He’s a quiet leader, sort of like Tim Duncan before him in San Antonio (which is perfect for Gregg Popovich).

Personally, I’d still say he’s a superstar. However, he’s never going to have the Q Rating of Shaq or Curry or LeBron. So if that’s how you choose to define superstar…


After losing to his father in golf, Stephen Curry leaps into Lake Tahoe

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Golf fanatic Stephen Curry was clearly enjoying himself on the links at the American Century Championship celebrity golf event in Lake Tahoe this past weekend.

But he couldn’t beat his father, Dell.

The price? Curry (and his caddy) had to jump in the lake. Check out the video above.

For the record, Tony Romo won the event.


Spurs’ pick Chimezie Metu to miss time with fractured wrist

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Chimezie Metu showed some promise in the Summer League games he played for San Antonio, scoring 12.5 points a game on 55 percent shooting in Las Vegas, and 10.7 per game on 54 percent shooting in Salt Lake City. The second round pick of the Spurs (No. 49 overall) is raw and needs a lot of development, but he can get buckets. The potential is there.

That development is going to be on hold a while, as what was thought to be a sprained wrist has turned out to be a fracture.

From Tom Osborn of the San Antonio Express-News.

After an examination Saturday, the Spurs medical staff downgraded second-round pick Chimezie Metu’s left wrist injury from a sprain to a fracture, a league source said Saturday.

Metu was injured late in the Spurs’ 95-90 win over Washington on July 8 at the Las Vegas Summer League, when he landed awkwardly after leaping to catch a lob pass at the rim. The 6-foot-10 big man finished the game but was sidelined for the remainder of the schedule.

After undergoing X-rays at the Thomas & Mack Center, Metu was diagnosed with a sprain. But Spurs’ team doctors suspected a possible fracture, which was confirmed after Metu returned to San Antonio on Saturday.

Metu should be good to go by training camp. Metu is hoping his summer and training camp play will earn him a roster spot, although the Spurs tend not to sign second-round picks the year they were drafted (they tend to let them spend a year or two in the G-League or in Europe). A lot of his chances on making the roster depend on any other moves the Spurs make this summer and what their roster looks like come the fall.

French NBA stars (and others) react to France World Cup win

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For the second time in it’s history, France is the World Cup champion.

Celebrations erupted all over France, and in French enclaves around the world — and the celebrations spilled over to social media. NBA players from France were posting their joy, as you’d expect.

Other NBA players, international and domestic, also were in on the party.

Even some NBA teams got in on the online congratulations party.

Watch best of Wendell Carter Jr. at Summer League

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I will own my mistake: Coming into the NBA Draft I was not high on Wendell Carter Jr., particularly how well he would defend at the NBA level.

I missed on that one — he has impressed me and everyone else in Las Vegas at Summer League. While nobody should ever read too much into Summer League perormances, he has shown potential on both ends of the court. Check out his highlights above

His offensive game is everything that was advertised — versatile and polished. He has nailed turnarounds in the post, can score with either hand, has a jump shot with real range, and he is a smart and willing passer. Defensively he has been physical, works hard and uses his athleticism to be dispruptive.

We will see how he fares against NBA-level competition (and how he pairs with Jabari Parker and the rest of the Bulls frontcourt), but the work ethic and tools are there. The Bulls may have something in Carter Jr.