LeBron James on why Kawhi Leonard chose Clippers: 'I don't f---ing know'

Ahead of Tuesday’s heavyweight NBA tipoff matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, LeBron James and Anthony Davis spoke about the Big 3 that never was.

As they open up their season against Kawhi Leonard and company, the two Lakers stars shed some light on their recruitment efforts of the two-time NBA Finals MVP who signed with their crosstown rival.

When asked at shootaround why Leonard didn’t sign with the Lakers, James gave a blunt response.

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“Man, how the hell can I answer that? I don't f---ing know," James said, per ESPN. “I don't know. I don't know. Ask Kawhi.”

James believed Lakers had a chance to sign Leonard

James, who had a grin on his face when made that quip, did shed some light on his thoughts on Leonard during the recruitment process. He believed the Lakers had a chance to sign him.

“I don't get too excited until things actually happen, but I thought we had a chance," James said. "That's all you can ask for. We put ourselves in position to have a chance to get [Leonard]. When he went to the Clippers, I thought that was just as cool. It was great for our league, and he had to do what was best for him. And we all respect that.”

LeBron James opened up on the recruitment process of Kawhi Leonard ahead of Tuesday's Lakers-Clippers game. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
LeBron James opened up on the recruitment process of Kawhi Leonard ahead of Tuesday's Lakers-Clippers game. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Leonard, of course, took his own time to make his decision, as was his prerogative as the top target in the summer’s star-laden free agency class. His delayed decision hamstrung the Lakers from making other moves as they held out hope that Leonard would sign with them.

James took a diplomatic when discussing Leonard’s process, which makes sense considering James has certainly taken his own cutthroat strategies to his own business decisions. Game respects game.

LeBron not dishing the details

He drew the line at discussing exactly what he said to Leonard as he made his Lakers pitch.

“Um, we don't really talk about what happens on my phone,” James said.

Davis worried he overstepped

Davis, meanwhile, says he enjoyed the process of trying to lure Leonard, but fears he may have stepped over a line.

"We had one conversation, and I think he came out with a statement, or his uncle or something ... somebody said he don't really like all the recruitment and all that stuff, so I felt like I overstepped my boundaries.”

He said he has no regrets, though. You’ve got to shoot your shot.

“It was a fun process. I would do it all over."

Now, instead of the Lakers fielding a seemingly unstoppable Big 3, they’ll compete with the Clippers as the preseason title favorites in the most open NBA championship field since the Golden State Warriors began their run of five straight Finals appearances.

It’s not a bad consolation prize for a team that missed the playoffs last year.

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