Kawhi Leonard isn’t what we in the industry like to refer to as “Chatty.” Or “Talkative.” Or “Somebody who enjoys using words.”
Since the Los Angeles Clippers All-Star doesn’t particularly dig your garden-variety bull sessions, we’re not all that familiar with the ins and outs of his life. (If he were a motormouth like, say, Charles Barkley or Shaq O’Neal, different story.) Nonetheless, we do know a few cool things about the Claw. Here are five:
The Name Kawhi Means…Different Stuff
What with all the basketball hardware under his belt, nobody should be surprised hat Kawhi has become a one-named celeb, a la Madonna and Prince. But if you say Kawhi to a New Zealander, they might ask, “You mean the coffee, right?” Aficionados of Hawaii will be reminded of the island Kauai, although Leonard notes that isn’t where his family came up with his name. But if you ask a Canadian, they’ll say, “Do you mean the basketball player, or my child?”
One of His Relatives Might Have Helped Your Fantasy Football Team
Between 2008-2016, former NFL wide receiver Stevie Johnson caught a few footballs for Buffalo, San Francisco, and San Diego. With the Bills, the speedster put up three consecutive 1,000-plus-yard seasons, and in 2010, he racked up 82 catches and 10 touchdowns.
But these days, Stevie’s biggest claim to fame is that he’s Kawhi Leonard’s cousin.
Kawhi feels that football is in the family’s bloodstream, claiming that he could have succeeded in the NFL. One problem: “I hated putting on pads.”
He Moonlights As a Film Producer
In 2017, Kawhi co-executive-produced The First to Do It, a documentary about Earl Lloyd, one of the earliest African-Americans to play in the NBA. Leonard told Marc Spears that the film connection came about organically.
“About two or three years ago, I wanted to check out who the first African-American basketball player [was]. I just searched it on the Internet, and I came up with Earl Lloyd. I didn’t want to read too much on him. I just wanted to figure out the answer. Two years later, I hear from [directors Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah] that are going to do this documentary.”
The First to Do It premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival, and former New York Knicks guard John Starks raved about it: “I’m glad that they were able to make this documentary so that young players and people in general could understand that [Lloyd] had a profound effect on society as a whole.”
Denzel Washington Looooooves Himself Some Kawhi
In 2019, the Oscar-winner told Bill Simmons about his first encounter with Leonard, which took place at a high school basketball tournament. “My son [Malcolm] had a game and there was a second game, and it was a school called King Riverside, and I remember because that night they said, ‘There’s a young man who’s playing tonight whose father had been killed.’ We had a moment of silence for him, and the kid’s name was Kawhi Leonard, and he had about 29 points and 27 rebounds and I figured, ‘Wow this kid is inspired by losing his dad.’ And what a game. And no one knew [he’d be] able to do that for the next 20 years.”
Dude Can Dance
The two-time NBA Finals MVP doesn’t bust moves often, but when he does, look out.