Kawhi Leonard is extremely reserved. Which is totally fine. He doesn’t owe it to anyone to change his personality.
When he was leading the Spurs to a championship, his quiet nature was endearing.
At this stage of his career, it causes more frustration.
Just how standoffish is Leonard?
Once, on a trip to Philadelphia, a reporter heard Leonard went to a cheesesteak place for lunch and tried to ask how it was. Leonard scowled and said he only would answer questions about basketball. On the day he made his first All-Star team, he was asked for a pregame comment and resisted until a media relations staffer pleaded with him to give a one-sentence statement.
Last season, a national reporter landed a one-on-one interview with Leonard, and during the conversation wanted to follow up on something in a piece written by Express-News beat writer Jeff McDonald, who had covered – with rare exceptions – every game, home and away, of Leonard’s career since he entered the league in 2011.
“I know you mentioned this to Jeff,” the national reporter began.
“Who’s Jeff?” Leonard said.
Leonard doesn’t isolate himself from just the media. He sent such mixed signals about whether he’d return from injury last season, his teammates ambushed him with a meeting to ask him directly. Management had a hard time connecting with him, too.
If Leonard wants to keep to himself and focus on basketball, he absolutely can. But teams have a vested interest in reading his intentions, and he’s keeping everything close to the vest.
It’s hard to find anyone a good read on any of those questions, which only increase intrigue as Leonard’s free agency approaches.