NBA

Kawhi Leonard Offers His Thoughts on Social Justice Statements on Jerseys

Kawhi Leonard usually does his talking on the court. He’s a rare superstar who keeps to himself. The Los Angeles Clippers forward typically doesn’t have a whole lot to say, but on a conference call with reporters Monday, Leonard spoke out on the players being able to wear messages related to social justice on the back of their jerseys.

Kawhi Leonard’s basketball career

After playing his college basketball at San Diego State University, Kawhi Leonard was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft. The Pacers immediately dealt Leonard to the San Antonio Spurs for George Hill and he went on to make a name for himself.

Leonard spent the first seven years of his NBA career in San Antonio. It took him a while to get rolling with the Spurs, but during his fifth and sixth seasons with the team, he was named an NBA All-Star. During the 2015-16 season, Leonard had a then-career-high 21.2 points-per-game average to go along with 6.8 rebounds. The following season, he increased his scoring average to 25.5 points per game and he played in a career-high 74 games.

Health has been the issue for Leonard. In just two of his nine seasons in the NBA has he played more than 70 games in a season. During the 2017-18 season, his last with the Spurs, he played just nine games. After that season, the Spurs traded him to the Toronto Raptors where he guided the team to an NBA title. He averaged 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The next season, he signed with the Los Angeles Clippers as a free agent and has averaged a career-high 26.9 points through 51 games.

The NBA is ready to return to action

In one of the most challenging times the NBA has gone through, the league is planning to return on July 30 after a three-plus-month hiatus. After it was made public on March 11 that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), the league was suspended. The NBA hasn’t played a game since and has been planning to restart July 30.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has gotten the league to resume its season in Orlando and has the players, coaches, and team executives in a ‘bubble’ to make sure there is no spread of the virus. Many players have expressed hesitation about resuming the season for health reasons. The state of Florida recently just set a record for new cases of the virus in one day.

Players have also voiced concern about social injustice. The country has held protests to raise awareness about racial inequality after the death of George Floyd on May 25. Several players have stated that the re-start of the NBA might become a distraction to the fight for equality. Silver is allowing the players to have a message related to social injustice across their backs if they choose.

Leonard speaks about statements on jerseys

In a conference call with reporters Monday, Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers was talking about the return of the NBA. One of the questions that came up was how he felt about the players wearing social justice messages on the back of their jerseys. Leonard responded by saying the statements don’t matter, actions do.

“We’ve been dealing with this situation, we’ve been giving back to our communities,” Leonard said, according to Sports Illustrated. “I’m just going to continue to do what I’ve been doing, giving back to my community, educating my community, and just keep going from there… It doesn’t matter if we have a statement on the back of our jersey, it’s about doing the work.”