I’m going to attempt to write this blog as if you have never ever heard of Kawhi Leonard. He is a American professional basketball player. He began his professional career in San Antonio playing for the Spurs. This team is known for conforming players to fit into a system. There is no room for “show-boating” or players “being in charge”. The popular head coach of the team is known for having complete control over the team and it’s players. It is here where our story begins. Kawhi is the type of player that is not flamboyant. He isn’t loud, he doesn’t do a lot of press, and he isn’t really active on social media. I think of him as an analog kinda guy in a digital world. He’s a man of few words and we are often left confused as to what he could be thinking or how he feels. He shows no emotion. These traits can be frustrating and extremely alluring at the same time. Everyone wants to be that person to crack the Kawhi code even though we know there is no chance it will happen. There is no doubt, however, that he is one of the best players to ever play the game of basketball. He led the San Antonio Spurs to an NBA Championship and won the finals MVP during that playoff run. He was loved. He was celebrated. And absolutely no one cared that he didn’t speak a lot. His words were put on display through ever dribble, every jumper, every defensive stop and every dunk. We knew his story even if his interviews were 50 words or less. Things took a weird turn in San Antonio for Kawhi two years later. The once most celebrated player in Texas was now the enemy of the state for one reason. He refused to play hurt. The same traits that could be alluring was now frustrating the organization and its fans. Everyone that once celebrated his existence begin to question his motives simply because he did not agree with team doctors. He knew something wasn’t right, and he wasn’t going to play through an injury everyone outside his body was considering minor. The words were many on the part of the Spurs, but Kawhi kept his demeanor and eventually got to the point where the many words he was hearing started to be disrespectful. This lead to a trade demand. Soon before we all knew it, Kawhi was headed to the Toronto Raptors. Unlike his experience in San Antonio, the medical staff and the Raptors organization worked with Kawhi to the point where he felt his injury was healed and he could play again. Fast forward to June 2019, Kawhi again leads this team to its first NBA Championship. Again he was awarded the finals MVP. All that was short lived. Kawhi was on loan to the Raptors and wasn’t there on any type of long term contract. He became what you call an unrestricted free agent in the 2019 summer of basketball free agency. Over the years, fans and the league have been spoiled. Free agency starts July 1 in which the popular players in free agency announce which team they’ve chosen to go to ON THE FIRST DAY OF FREE AGENCY. Not Kawhi, he started his free agency search on the day free agency started. This is unheard of. So for six days he left fans and the league waiting and speculating where he would go. Some said he would return to his hometown and play for the LA Lakers or there could be a slight chance he would play for the LA Clippers. Some said he would just stay in Toronto and continue on with the team that took time to understand his wants and needs. There were even those who speculated he would go to the New York Knicks. That New York things was pure speculation but had some minor validity to it. I recall looking at my husband and saying when he announces where he’s going we are all going to be sleep. We’ll all wake up to the news. I figured this because that is just how it seems Kawhi moves through situations. He doesn’t do a lot of talking. He doesn’t do a lot of “look at me” stunts. He simply sticks with his family and does everything quite and outside the public eye. There were no hints from him or his camp. Everyone was left in the dark all 6 days. July 6th I woke up at 5:00am for a bathroom run and I checked my phone only to find Kawhi had announced his next place to play basketball. And not only did he announced that he was going to the LA Clippers (the team who was all but cut out the options for potential destinations) but he also was bringing Paul George (another great basketball player) with him. Analyst, fans, and the whole NBA basketball league woke up July 6th stunned. WHEN DID HE PLAN THIS? The quiet Kawhi, the analoge king, had managed to navigate through such a digital world to keep a secret such as this. HOW DID HE DO IT? Below are the tactics I feel we all should take heed to.
- Kawhi keeps a small circle. Make sure you keep people around you that always has your best interest at heart. Kawhi has an uncle that serves as his mouthpiece. If you want to talk business with Kawhi, you have to go through his uncle first. His family protects him from the nonsense. It’s good to be surrounded by family. Personal issues are kept personal when its within a circle of people you trust. Kawhi was able to go to his family and talk about his decisions and not worry if someone was going to “leak” anything.
- Kawhi is not a social media junkie. Many think that you have to be on social media, you have to post something or see what’s going on. You have to let people know your opinion on topics. All in all, social media makes people feel like they matter. What you have to do is take that Kawhi approach and know and understand, you are good with or without social media. The real world doesn’t happen on facebook. The real world isn’t virtual. One should never find their self worth on any social media platform. Likes don’t really mean you are liked.
- Kawhi keeps his words to a minimum. My grandmother was the same way. She always said that people don’t listen when you talk a lot. The curiosity lies with those who don’t say much. When people don’t “get you” they don’t know how to hurt you. It’s when they have you figure out when they can successfully penetrate your heart. This could backfire like it did for Kawhi in San Antonio. The Spurs didn’t know his real thoughts so they created the narrative they believed to be true. Later, it was found that the true villains were the Spurs organization.
- Kawhi does things his way. This could be the most important point. Do things that feel right to you. Personally, I ask the holy spirit to guide me. I don’t make decisions because I asked FB. I don’t make decisions because it’s the popular thing to do. I base my decision on if it’s going to be right for me and my family. Kawhi didn’t play injured even though it wasn’t the popular thing to do. Kawhi didn’t go to the Lakers, even though that would have been the popular thing to do. He did was right for his family and his career. Going forward, you should too.