What do we really, honestly know about Kawhi Leonard?
That he’s really good at basketball? That he grew up in Southern California? That he’s a self-proclaimed “fun guy?”
Beyond those limited facts and a few other things, we really don’t know much about arguably the best basketball player in the world right now, an astounding reality considering the 24/7 social media and reality television-fueled, continuous live broadcast of a world we live in.
All indications are that’s because Kawhi likes things that way, which has essentially turned our collective wait for him to announce his free agency choice of either the Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers or LA Clippers as his next team the Kawhi Leonard of free agency processes: Notable, but with little-to-no information on it in realtime.
Seriously, think about it: We know so little about Leonard that the myths about him have become as large and weird as the actual facts, like a modern-day Johnny Appleseed. “Apple time” and “board man gets paid” are equally loud parts of Leonard’s lore, but only one of them is actually true (as far as we know, at least).
All week, we’ve seen Leonard’s free agency play out with the same void of information — reportedly because he and his camp prefer things that way — creating an environment where no one really knows what’s true, but everyone has a strong opinion on it.
Jalen Rose is “99 percent hearing” that Leonard will choose the Raptors. Stephen A. Smith is telling NBA insiders he brought on his show that his sources are telling him Leonard has chosen the Lakers. Cris Carter — whose former agent now works with Leonard — is saying the Leonard hasn’t chosen yet at all, and there are reports we may not hear where he’s headed next for the few days.
Which of those reports are “apple time” myths, and which is the “board man gets paid” fact? It’s basically impossible to know for sure. Anyone you talk to will tell you a different thing, and it’s all fifth or sixth-hand because Leonard’s camp is playing things so close to the vest. And don’t take my word for it, even eminently more plugged-in NBA insiders like Woj have gotten on T.V. of late and said the same thing.
That dearth of information has made people crazy, with everyone projecting their different view of Leonard and what he wants onto him, creating hundreds of thousands of different reads and theories on what he’ll do, with nearly everyone 100 percent sure theirs is correct, even if they can’t all be. I’m pretty sure he’s picking the Lakers, but the reality is that no one truly KNOWS for sure right now. Potentially not even Kawhi himself.
That’s left people to search for any possible facts to use to fuel their confirmation bias, with his heavily tracked plane flight to Toronto — complete with helicopters filming his drive to (likely) meet with the Raptors — serving as evidence that he was staying, or just that he was returning to say goodbye in person, or anything in between.
But again, we just don’t really know for sure yet, and sometimes that’s okay to just acknowledge. It also may not be worth spending all day, every day freaking out about his choice (and yes, that’s something I’m as guilty of as anyone). It seems a decision won’t be coming today, and maybe not for a few days. In fact, if my new favorite Kawhi Leonard urban legend is accurate, maybe he’ll just show up at the training camp of whatever team he ultimately decides on with no prior announcement: For the sake of our collective sanity all offseason, let’s hope not, but if that’s actually how this all played out, it would be typical Kawhi. Just like the rest of this process.