What looked like a tantalizing matchup between two title contenders in the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night has basically been turned into Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Patrick Beverley.
Why? Because Kawhi Leonard will be sitting this one out due to load management, marking the second time Leonard has missed a game due to such an explanation this season.
The other instance was also during a nationally televised game, as Leonard skipped a game against the Utah Jazz.
Many are unhappy with the Clippers’ decision to rest Leonard, and on Wednesday, ESPN’s Doris Burke spoke out against it, saying on Golic and Wingo that Leonard sitting out is “ridiculous at this point.”
But here is the thing: This contest against Milwaukee on Wednesday evening is the first of a back-to-back, and NBA spokesman Mike Bass says that the league is completely fine with Leonard not playing, as he is “listed as managing a knee injury,” per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Leonard missed the aforementioned tilt against the Jazz because of a back-to-back, as well, so it’s not like he is just missing games for the sake of it.
Remember: the 28-year-old also missed 22 regular-season games with the Toronto Raptors last year, so Leonard resting due to load management is nothing new.
This started two seasons ago, when Leonard had a mysterious quad/knee injury that limited him to just nine contests with the San Antonio Spurs. Leonard and the Spurs were at odds over the injury, which ultimately led to Leonard asking out of San Antonio that summer.
Here is the thing: Doris Burke is not Kawhi Leonard. I am not Kawhi Leonard. You are not Kawhi Leonard. The only person who knows Kawhi Leonard’s body is … you guessed it: Kawhi Leonard.
So it is not our place to say whether or not he should be resting, and so long as he and the Clippers are following the NBA guidelines, I see no reason for a revolt.
Yes, it’s a nationally televised game, and fans want to see the best players every night. But I hate to break this news to the fans: the No. 1 goal of all NBA teams is to win a championship, and if sporadically resting Leonard helps the Clips achieve that goal, then you have to respect their process.
Of course, some people will make the argument that this is Leonard’s job and that he is getting paid to go to work every day, but people also need to understand that Leonard’s job is not like your everyday occupation.
It is grueling, it is taxing and it can absolutely destroy your body. Leonard just went through a serious injury that caused him to basically miss an entire season in 2017-18. I don’t blame him for wanting to manage it going forward to try to extend his career.
So Burke and fans and other media members can pout about this all they want, but the fact of the matter is that this is Kawhi Leonard’s life and not theirs, and the Clippers are playing to win.
Apparently, the best way to both appease Leonard and meet LA’s goals is for the Clippers and Leonard to follow this route.
And you know what? That’s perfectly fine with me.