Kawhi is an unusual name for a truly incredible athlete. He is a quiet man with great dignity, and he has been playing professional basketball in relative obscurity for the San Antonio Spurs. He showed up at every game, played as well as he could, took a shower and went home. He did not do anything to call attention to himself, because that is not his style. He is a digniﬁed man, and a private one.
He played most of his career for the San Antonio Spurs. This is an organization known for respecting and keeping their established stars, so most of us expected that he would spend his entire career there.However, last year he suffered some serious injuries, and the healing process was very slow. Greg Popovich, the coach of the Spurs reportedly grew impatient with the recovery process.
Popovich has been an extremely successful coach for the Spurs and at least in his own mind, he has become a great wit. It appears that he may have chosen to question the health or the character of Kawhi last season. If he did that , it will turn out to be his greatest mistake.
Kawhi did not complain or make any public statements. He decided that he would not play another season for the Spurs. While he was a highly respected athlete, he did not have the premier status of someone like Steph Curry or LeBron James. He was invited to join any of the major teams, but unbelievably he chose the Toronto Raptors. Toronto? You only go there if you play hockey.
However, that is where he went, and as it turns out that was a brilliant decision for him. His outstanding play and leadership allowed the Raptors to earn a spot in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. The Canadians have fallen in love with him, and his popularity there exceeds that of their great hockey players. The game was played in a sold-out stadium, and the outside Jurassic Park was ﬁlled with about 25,000 freezing, but excited fans.
In order to get to the NBA Finals, the Raptors had to win the series against the powerful Milwaukee Bucks. Things did not look good for them, as they lost the ﬁrst two games of a seven-game series. The Bucks, whose team was led by the incredible Giannis Antetokounmpo, also known as “The Greek Freak”, a great star, who was born in Africa, but grew up in Greece and he is an extremely talented. The ﬁrst two games of the series were played in Milwaukee, and the Bucks won both of them. This was not a good omen for the worried Raptors and their athlete.
At this point, Kawhi turned up the heat, and the Raptors won the Eastern Conference Championship, by winning four straight games. Every Canadian in the world is deliriously happy. They are also apprehensive since they realize that their beloved Raptors will now be facing the dreaded Golden State Warriors, who are lead by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. As well as the Raptors have played, they will be the underdogs in this series.
Sadly for Kawhi, the Warriors appear to be invincible. They are a great team of very nice athletes. However, due to their recent string of successes, they have become insufferably smug. So, I know that the Raptors will be underdogs, but I will be cheering for Kawhi!
Kawhi was born in Los Angeles. To my way of thinking, this is where he should be playing. The Clippers would like to have him, and I hope that he will join them. Then there could be some great battles between him and another of my heroes, LeBron James. Then when the basketball season is over, he and Magic and LeBron could do some business deals together. That is what Nipsey Hussle would want them to do. This is what our community needs!
[John Randolph Rogers/Sports Editor, Jorrogers@Aol.Com]