Kawhi Leonard is a NBA superstar and is doing tremendous work with the Los Angeles Clippers. The reigning Finals MVP signed with the Clippers this past summer after the team acquired Paul George via trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. So far this season, Kawhi is averaging 25.9 points, eight boards and 5.1 assists.
Two days ago, on Christmas day, the Clippers reached a huge feat when they beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the big battle of L.A. Leonard outscored Lakers’ superstar LeBron James by 12 points as he tallied 35 points and James had 23.
Today it was announced that Kawhi Leonard is the Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year for 2019. He is now the fifth athlete to have won this award joining Larry Bird (1986), three-time recipient Michael Jordan (1991 through 1993), three-time recipient LeBron James (2013, 2016, 2018) and Stephen Curry (2015), according to the Washington Post.
When voting for this year’s male athlete of the year, Kawhi earned twice as many votes as another player, per the Washington Post. Just last season, Kawhi Leonard led the Toronto Raptors to their first ever NBA Championship. Leonard was the best player last season in the post-season and won the NBA Finals MVP award for the second time. The first time he won the award was with the San Antonio Spurs.
Kawhi missed 22 regular-season games with the Raptors due to ‘load management’ but peaked during the post-season. The Klaw averaged 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and tallied a total of 732 points in last year’s playoffs which was the third-most points in any NBA playoff year. He also scored his famous game winning buzzer-beater in game 7 of the second round against the Philadelphia 76ers.
After leading the Raptors to their first Championship, Leonard left Toronto and signed with the L.A. Clippers. The Clippers have never even made it past the second round of playoffs but this year, with Kawhi as their superstar, they post a legitimate threat to win this year’s title.
Leonard is on track to take the crown as Los Angeles’ new king of L.A. In the Clippers game against the Lakers, Leonard tallied 35 points which was the most points in franchise history against the Lakers. He’s also outplayed King James in both games that they played against each other. In the two games against LeBron, Kawhi has averaged, 32.5 points 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 1.5 steals in 34.7 minutes of play. He shot 55.3% from the field, 50% from the three and 94.4% from the line. James on the other hand fell short and tallied an average of 20.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 9 assists and 1.5 steals in 37.4 minutes of play. He shot 37.2% from the field 17.6% from beyond the arc and 75% from the stripe.
But, to Kawhi, the fame and one-on-one matchups mean close to nothing.
“I’m playing to have fun and try to be the best player I can be,” Leonard said. “I’m happy with myself and what I have done in my career and I’m just going to keep on from there. It’s not about me being famous or want to have more fame than those guys. It’s about me playing basketball and having fun on the floor.”