The San Antonio Spurs have found themselves in unfamiliar territory. Normally a franchise that flies under the radar and happily goes about their business behind the scenes, the storied organization has been a part of one of the more peculiar ongoing storylines in recent memory – the Kawhi Leonard health saga.
After hurting his ankle in Game 1 of last season’s Western Conference Finals, the former Finals MVP missed the entire preseason training camp. Leonard then made his return midway through this campaign, only to be cut short by a quad injury.
Since going down again, the spotlight has been very much on the Spurs and their star, as they have created what seems like a serious back-and-forth rift. It was reported that Leonard has been cleared to play for some time now, but the two-way dynamo has opted to remain out as a precautionary measure. Because of this, it has developed into a perplexing situation for the Spurs, who are fighting for their playoff lives without undoubtedly their best player.
The drama continued when it was reported the Spurs held a “players only” meeting to convince Leonard to suit up again, but there has been no change since.
For the most part, the support for Leonard has been evident throughout his battle with injury and return to the floor. Universally known as a modest and humble guy, Leonard has earned the respect and benefit of the doubt that his injury is serious enough to keep him out for this long.
Recently, he received the support of NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, who jumped into the corner of the talented wingman.
Shaq on Kawhi Leonard's injury: "You can be cleared to play and still not be ready. … He's a class act, I'm not gonna question him. If the man says he's hurt, he's hurt."
— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) March 30, 2018
Amidst all the drama, it does seem as though Leonard feels he’s legitimately unable to return to action as of right now. Despite all the reports, it’s hard to imagine he would sit out with so much at stake for the organization and himself.
As the regular season winds down we will soon find out whether we will see the return of Leonard come playoff time provided the Spurs secure their passage. One thing is for sure, all NBA fans would love to see “The Klaw” out there in the postseason.