Tony Parker: Kawhi Leonard didn’t leave Spurs because of me

Dan Feldman
NBC Sports

Last March, Tony Parker – who, unlike Kawhi Leonard, already returned to play regularly for the Spurs – said his quad injury was 100 times worse than Leonard’s.

Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

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Parker regrets how that played out and finds it “unbelievable” some fans thought the comments played a role in Leonard’s desire to leave San Antonio.

“If people think that, then they’re really wrong,” Parker says, addressing the situation publicly for the first time. “Because I’m definitely not the reason. I was saying that in a positive way. The sad thing is everybody ran with this and put me as the bad guy, and I had no problem playing with Kawhi.

“I loved playing with him. I’m kind of the one who passed him the torch because it was kind of my team between 2008 and 2015, and I passed the torch to him. So it was sad people tried to put me against Kawhi. It never happened like that. People like [former Spur] Danny Green and other people that knew Kawhi and could talk to them, I told them to tell him the real story.”

Parker did better in explaining he had no problem with Leonard. At least Parker was speaking for himself at that point.

Very few people know Leonard well enough to understand his plans. Parker isn’t one of them. He needed a go-between just to explain himself to Leonard. There was clearly a divide there.

Parker isn’t positioned to say Leonard’s reasoning. It seems Parker, now with the Hornets, is just trying to get heat off himself.

I doubt Leonard forced his way out of San Antonio because of just Parker’s comment. But I do believe that comment contributed to Leonard feeling alienated.

Maybe that’s not how it was intended, though I have a hard time seeing how it’d come across “in a positive way.” Still, what people say doesn’t always convey how they feel. We needn’t beat up Parker if he didn’t choose his words carefully enough.

But we also shouldn’t blindly trust he can speak for Leonard like this.

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