Kawhi Leonard knows what he's doing.
The internet's favorite basketball oddball, Leonard has built up a reputation over the last half-decade as a robotic, emotionless basketball machine who only cares about winning in the most ruthlessly efficient way possible. His weirdo laugh, his bizarre zone-out faces, this friggin' picture - it all added up.
But with the release of Leonard's new signature shoes, the "4 Bounces", the superstar has officially crossed from "robot" to "villain".
Leonard wore the shoes Monday in Game 1 of the Clippers' first-round series against the Mavericks:
The "4 Bounces" colorway of Kawhi's signature sneaker. Look away, Philly fans. pic.twitter.com/NvpHjYBOyL— SLAM Kicks (@SLAMKicks) August 18, 2020
Here's a close look at the shoes themselves, which are fine, if a little geometric:
But the name? "4 Bounces"? That's an unforgivable move, Kawhi. That's cold.
And I'm not even talking about incorporating his shot into his New Balance gear. Because it was an incredible shot. An unbelievable moment in his excellent career. The photos of Leonard, arms extended over Joel Embiid, were unreal.
But man, "four bounces"? The part of the whole play that felt so improbable, so unfair, that it will haunt Sixers fans for the rest of time? That's intentionally brutal.
Leonard had to sign off on the "4 Bounces" name. According to New Balance's global director of consumer marketing, Pat Cassidy, Leonard was heavily involved in the process:
"To his credit, Kawhi is hyper-involved on a daily basis," says Cassidy. "The stuff you're going to see from the Four Bounces marketing, Kawhi's fingerprints are all over it. Same with the shoe design. Our partnerships work best when that's how it is."
That's anything *but* robotic. That's rubbing it in the Sixers' faces.
Leonard is, obviously, entitled to name his shoes whatever he wants. He's a superstar who always shows up. And I'll admit there's a certain awesome flex to the move.
But we're going to remember this one.
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Kawhi Leonard's new '4 Bounces' shoes make him a villain, not a robot originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia