“No League Policy Is Helping Me To Play More Games” | Kawhi Leonard Sounds Off On Load Management And New League Policy

2023-24 NBA media day was fairly mundane, save Jimmy Butler’s new hairdo in Miami and Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard sounding off on the league’s new player participation policy. The two-time Finals MVP said no league policy will get him to play more games.

“If I’m able to play, I’ll play basketball,” Leonard said. “I work out every day in the summertime to play the game, not to sit and watch people play. No league policy is helping me to play more games.”

Leonard Is That Dude

If Leonard never plays basketball again, he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Leonard was drafted 15th overall in 2011 by the San Antonio Spurs. In 11 seasons on the floor, he has been a seven-time All-Defensive selection, five-time All-NBA, five-time All-Star, two-time DPOY, and won two titles to go with those two Finals MVPs.

As it relates to injuries, he’s had some bad luck.

In his final season in San Antonio (2017-18), Leonard was playing through right quadriceps tendinopathy. He was only able to play in nine games.

The following season with the Toronto Raptors, he only played in 60 games, never in both games of a back-to-back. But the Raptors won the title that year and he earned his second Finals MVP.

“When I was with the Raptors, it was different, I was coming from an injury,” Leonard said. “You have to know the details of a doctor. If the league is seeing or trying to mock what I did with the Raptors, then they should stop, because I was injured during that whole year.”

Ever since he joined the Clippers the team’s goal has been to get Leonard to the postseason as healthy as possible. In his first season, the team held him out of at least one game of back-to-backs.

He missed the last three games of the last postseason because of a torn meniscus. Leonard also missed 30 games this last regular season, and the entire 2021-22 regular season after suffering a torn ACL in the 2021 postseason.

Injuries Are Part Of The Game And Leonard Has Been Unlucky

This has never been reported and is only speculation. But Leonard likely has a situation with his lower extremities that is chronic. The only thing that will allow him to avoid injury is not playing. Since he’s still elite when he’s on the floor, that is not an option.

Instead, the team opts to limit the load he places on his lower extremities throughout the course of an 82-game season.

This can be frustrating to fans who just want these players to be robots and perform without injury but that’s not reality. The league’s new participation policy is counterproductive in that respect.

The goal is to have as many players as healthy as possible when the playoffs begin. Forcing a mandatory 65-game minimum is the league talking out of both sides of its mouth.

Leonard is a competitor. You don’t earn the accolades he has in the best basketball league in the world without being an apex predator. But injuries are real and they have to be managed in some form or fashion.

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