Writer: Jameson White

It was reported by the New York Daily News on April 27th that Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, wants head coach Gregg Popovich to “lighten up a little with practice and tweak some things,” in order to sign a contract extension with the team. This, of course, comes less than a week after a first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, a series in which Leonard was not present for a single game.

Credit to USA Today

Gregg Popovich also reportedly wants to make amends with his superstar forward, however, it is unclear what the conditions will be under. The Spurs have a reputation for being one of the smartest franchises in all of sports, so it would come to no surprise to not see them offer a $217,000,000 contract extension to a player they have not yet made amends with. Gregg Popovich also has an ability to work his personal-relationship magic, as Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge requested a trade in the summer of 2017. The request was not quite fulfilled as it was wooed by the coach’s willingness to listen and adapt to the player’s requests. The meeting between Aldridge and Popovich allowed Aldridge to have his best season as a Spur by far. However, Popovich should not feel so keen to listen to Leonard’s demands.

Credit to Business Insider

When healthy, Kawhi Leonard is the Spurs’ best player without a doubt. Not only is he the best player in San Antonio, he is one of the top five players in the league, as he can carry both an offense and a defense. Yet these requests of his show a lack of maturity on his part. Who is he to ask Gregg Popovich to make practices easier? Popovich is a 5-time NBA champion and one of the best and most brilliant coaches in NBA history; if Popovich thinks practices are important and takes them seriously, obviously he knows what he is talking about. Another sign of immaturity on Leonard’s part is the fact that he would “not respond to teammates or members of the organization’s texts or phone calls for weeks.” If he wants to take his time in New York to get healthy with his camp, so be it. If he feels the need to consult with his own doctors, fine. But whenever you do not respond to teammates and members of your team’s front office for weeks, do not tell anybody from the organization your health status, do not show up to playoff games, do not show up to said playoff games after your head coach is absent due to a death in the family, you do not deserve to be called a leader of the team.

Credit to Sporting News

Kawhi Leonard’s requests come just over a week after the passing of Gregg Popovich’s wife of more than 40 years. It takes a certain lack of respect to ask a person to change whenever they are mourning the loss of a loved one. The Spurs are surely going to meet with their star player over the summer to try to fix a once strong relationship because they realize they are a better team on the court with Leonard playing. Popovich should listen and abide by only minor requests from the All-Star forward. The greatest coaches in any sport take advice and suggestions from his or her players. However, he should not allow any player to run his team; players play and coaches coach.

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