David Robinson on reaching out to Kawhi Leonard: 'Never hear anything back from him'

Jason Owens
David Robinson’s account of his relationship with <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4896/" data-ylk="slk:Kawhi Leonard">Kawhi Leonard</a> provides some insight into how the relationship between the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/sas" data-ylk="slk:Spurs">Spurs</a> and their star broke down. (AP)
David Robinson’s account of his relationship with Kawhi Leonard provides some insight into how the relationship between the Spurs and their star broke down. (AP)

NBA fans are well aware that Kawhi Leonard doesn’t say much.

It’s kind of his thing. The next time something interesting comes out of his mouth in a public setting will be the first time.

David Robinson barely had a relationship with Kawhi Leonard

San Antonio Spurs icon and two-time NBA champion David Robinson shed some light on Leonard’s private persona Monday in a chat with “The Jump’s” Rachel Nichols. It sounds like he knew as much about Leonard personally as the rest of us before his trade to the Toronto Raptors.

“It’s one of the oddest situations I think I’ve seen since I’ve been in pro basketball,” Robinson said of dealing with Leonard. … “He really, he’s a hard guy. He’s just quiet. He doesn’t, you know. I’ve reached out to him several times and just never hear anything back from him.”

This is surprising and not-so surprising at the same time.

Why would Leonard shut Robinson out?

It’s surprising in that it’s hard to imagine that anyone associated with the Spurs wouldn’t welcome a relationship with Robinson. He’s the godfather of the modern Spurs, a two-time champion, a Hall of Famer and an Olympic gold medalist as a member of the original Dream Team.

He was the first star in the Gregg Popovich era before handing the reins to Tim Duncan.

And who doesn’t like Robinson? By all accounts, he’s one of the most likable, intelligent and hardest-working people associated with the NBA.

We may never hear Kawhi Leonard’s side of the story about his broken relationship with the Spurs. (AP)
We may never hear Kawhi Leonard’s side of the story about his broken relationship with the Spurs. (AP)

Leonard’s relationship with Robinson revelatory

Leonard was supposed to be the next guy after Duncan.

But Robinson’s revelation that he didn’t have a working relationship with Leonard makes sense in light of how things fell apart for Kawhi and the Spurs.

From the outside, communication seemed to be the biggest barrier during the saga over how the team and Leonard wanted to handle the quadriceps injury that kept him sidelined for most of last season. Reports from Leonard’s camp were that he didn’t trust the team’s assessment, while Popovich genuinely seemed to be in the dark about what Leonard was thinking.

It was a remarkable communication breakdown.

From listening to Robinson, it’s easy to imagine how that breakdown happened.

“I think the whole time he’s been here [in San Antonio], I’ve talked to him maybe a handful of times, and I can count on one hand how many words he’s really said to me. So he’s just a quiet guy, and I think that that’s made it difficult, I think, for all parties to really understand each other in this process”

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