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Clippers star Kawhi Leonard’s real reason for declining invite to LeBron James’ 2008 skills camp

Los Angeles Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard and his Los Angeles Lakers counterpart LeBron James are considered to be one of the biggest rivalries in the NBA today. Many may say their rivalry started seven seasons ago when Leonard’s Spurs and James’s Miami Heat clashed in the 2013 NBA Finals.

However, that may not be the case. In 2008, the now-Clippers-forward was a junior at Martin Luther King High School and was the star player on his varsity basketball team. During that season, he averaged a team-high 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game. Leonard also led his team to the CIF Divisional title in 2008.

After his outstanding season, Leonard received an invite from LeBron James to attend his skills academy in Akron, Ohio. Keep in mind that only the top college and high school prospects get invited to the James Skills Academy. Getting an invite to the academy is undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

According to Leonard’s longtime trainer Clint Parks, Leonard declined James’s invite. When Parks asked the Clippers All-Star why he declined his invite, Leonard said: “I play real basketball.” It’s unclear what Leonard means by this; however, he most likely wasn’t interested in learning from James.


Leonard has shown that he isn’t the type to play with the best; he wants to prove he’s the best. Nevertheless, the Leonard and James rivalry has certainly hit its peak this season. Both superstars are playing in Los Angeles now, and they’ll most likely meet in the playoffs this season.

While both superstars may have mutual respect between each other, there’s not a lot of admiration.