Over the past few years, NBA fans have grown accustomed to seeing Kawhi Leonard running out of time due to injury, an unfortunate trend according to Paul Pierce that has been largely dismissed by the masses.
The 2022-23 campaign brought the same for Leonard, as the Clippers star missed seven of the team’s nine games due to a lingering problem in his surgically repaired right knee. Leonard’s health has largely prevented the 31-year-old from adding to his already impressive resume but, in Pierce’s eyes, his lack of availability and the conversations surrounding the subject speak to a larger issue.
The Basketball Hall of Famer shared his thoughts on Leonard while speaking to former Celtics teammate and fellow HOF’er Kevin Garnett on the latest edition of their Showtime Basketball podcast, “Certified KG: Ticket & The Truth.Pierce offered to question why Leonard’s legacy can be mentioned alongside LeBron James and Kevin Durant while avoiding the same criticism that oft-injured forward Anthony Davis did after Garnett asked why there seemed to be a lack information about Leonard’s injuries despite how often he ends up being sidelined during the season.
“We don’t hold Kawhi accountable enough,” Pierce said before noting that Leonard has missed a lot of time over the past five years. “Because he’s the status he is we mention him in the same breath as Bron, KD when he’s at his best but then how we talk about Anthony Davis not being available we don’t put Kawhi in this group.”
For Pierce, Leonard has played just 180 games since the 2017-18 season, his last with Spurs, and missed all of last season after undergoing surgery to repair the torn ACL he suffered in the second. round of the playoffs in June 2021. Meanwhile, Davis, who has been the subject of many jokes and memes due to his own injury history in recent years, the NBA champion and eight-time All-Star has played 276 matches during the same period.
After KG asked Pierce if he believed Kawhi and AD were parallels, ‘The Truth’ admitted he was worried about Leonard’s future and his opportunity to lead the Clippers alongside Paul George where they were trying to go.
“I really believe that something is seriously wrong long term with Kawhi,” he said. “How many Kawhi have we seen? We love watching Kawhi, at his peak he is one of the best in the league. So we’re like, we want to catch him in the field with this Clipper team.
While some may agree with Pierce’s view, it’s hard to argue that Leonard, even his health issues, hasn’t cemented his place among some of the best players in his position. Although he was never named NBA MVP, Leonard is a two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP, five-time All-Star and two-time Defensive Player of the Year among a number of others. accolades.
Needless to say, if his fortunes turn around, Leonard still has, in theory, enough time to show Pierce and the rest of the sports world that “The Claw” still has a lot to accomplish in his remaining time in the league.
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