Kawhi Leonard has called Michael Jordan his inspiration in the past. But there are more similarities between the two than you might know.
The Klaw is one of the elite swingmen in the league today. Most people recognize him as a top-5 player in the NBA, and with good reason. Kawhi came into the league as a 3-and-D guy, but he’s expanded his game to become an extremely potent offensive weapon over the last 6 seasons.
His style of play resembles that of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan quite a bit. Kawhi also emphasizes post play and the mid-range game a lot like these two legendary shooting guards.
However, the similarities between MJ and the Klaw go even further than their on-court displays.
Kawhi Leonard and Michael Jordan are both victims of gun violence
Michael Jordan lost his father in June 1993 in a run-in with unknown assailants. James Jordan was shot and his body was not found for a couple of days after the incident.
Kawhi Leonard’s dad, Mark Leonard, owned a car wash in Compton, California. While Kawhi was in high school at King in Riverside, Mark was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting.
Michael Jordan’s and Kawhi Leonard’s fathers death story and winning a championship for them on Father’s Day #FathersDaymoments
— Coach Lopez (@Nicklopez_9) June 16, 2014
His dad’s death affected Kawhi quite adversely. He became withdrawn and less prone to displaying emotion after the loss of his father. Even his coaches struggled to get through his hard exterior and really get through to him emotionally.
One of the iconic images from Michael Jordan’s career is that of him sobbing uncontrollably while clutching the 1996 NBA championship. That particular win came on Father’s Day of that year. Kawhi himself won his first Finals MVP trophy on Father’s Day 2014.