Kobe Bryant theorizes why Kawhi Leonard chose Clippers over Lakers
Kawhi Leonard’s free-agency decision this past summer was believed to have come down to either the Clippers or Lakers — with the Toronto Raptors viewed as something of a long shot — and Kobe Bryant has a theory why the superstar opted to pass on teaming up with LeBron James.
In essence, Bryant believes Leonard wanted to forge his own path outside of James’ shadow and create a legacy of his own in his hometown.
In the end, Leonard did end up being part of a Big Two of his own after the Clippers acquired Paul George, but he would have been part of a three-headed monster — a formidable one at that — with the Lakers alongside James and Anthony Davis.
Leonard, however, is the unquestionable top dog with the Clippers. George arguably is playing second fiddle to Leonard, despite his established superstar status. Bryant believes that was part of the appeal for the superstar.
“I’m sure Kawhi wants to take the challenge of winning independent of playing with LeBron,” Bryant said, via Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times.
“Maybe that was the same for P.G. I think they relish the challenge of taking on something new. I don’t think it was a slight at the Lakers. It was more about circumstances and what was already here in L.A. and on the Lakers, and they wanted to take the challenge of building something new.”
Bryant’s thoughts on Leonard’s free-agency deliberations generally fall in line with what some pundits and insiders thought about the situation. That said, Leonard’s decision to spurn the Lakers — much to their chagrin — and sign with the Clippers was nevertheless the source of some surprise in NBA circles.
The battle for L.A.’s basketball soul between the Clippers and Lakers begins in earnest Tuesday on NBA opening night, so fans will get an early sneak peek at a rivalry that is sure to be one of the most compelling storylines of the entire 2019-20 season.