LeBron James vs. Kawhi Leonard: the evolution of rivalry

 

With all the talk about Giannis Antetokunmpo in Milwaukee and the possible return of Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn field, none of the players represent LeBron James’ biggest rival: Leonard’s Cavi

No, even Durant, who met James in three NBA finals, last defeated Lebron in 2017 and 2018 for his support, while Durant was in the State Golden Warriors and James was a member of the Cleveland Cavalier.

The player who currently poses the biggest threat to James lives in the same city as where James is playing. It’s hard to imagine that Leonard is a legitimate rival to someone else’s personality. He doesn’t say crap. He doesn’t show much emotion. He doesn’t raise his feathers.

LeBron James, Lakers, Kavi Leonard, Clippers.

He’s just going to do his job and quietly destroy everything in his path, like his former San Antonio Sports teammate Tim Duncan.

But even Duncan looks like Kevin Garnett or Russell Westbrook when it comes to Cauchi.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have LeBron’s attention.

The rivalry began seven years ago when James Heath and Leonard Spurs met in the first of two consecutive NBA finals. Leonard was only 21 at the time and didn’t attract much attention outside Texas. But even then, Kauha’s defense in front of LeBron (LeBron’s best, no less) was so embarrassing that James made that famous bloody face when Leonard came down in game five of the series.

Of course Heath will eventually win this game in seven games, and James will win the honorary title of MVP in the finals. But the following year Leonard destroyed the same Miami team in the last second half and won the MVP award.

That’s when the rivalry between the two small supporters really started to intensify.

No, Leonard hadn’t reached James’ level yet, but his ascent was clear. In fact, over the next few years, LeBron grumbled every time he was asked about Kauha in an interview, and threw his merits into oblivion in general, rather than denigrating his predecessor.

LeBron versus Kawhi only took place twice a year, as James stayed in the East and Leonard in San Antonio until 2018, but every time they encountered tensions, they were felt.

Kavi Leonard, LeBron James.

A.P. Darren Abort/Photo

That’s when the idea of the two superstars who were teammates became reality in the summer of 2018, when Leonard from San Antonio invited and the hot Lakers were on his heels (who had just signed LeBron).

However, the Spurs didn’t want anything to do with sending Kavi to Los Angeles and eventually traded him for the Toronto Raptors, where he won his second championship (and his penultimate MVP) last season.

The potential of the duo LeBron-Kawhi was revealed again this summer when Leonard met a free agency, but Leonard turned down James (and Anthony Davis) and decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers to play with Paul George.

The idea of a play-off game between the Lakers and Clippers meant that everyone took their place from day one, and we’ve seen three previews of this possible collision during the 2019-20 regular season, with Leonard James beating in two of them.

Although there is certainly mutual respect between LeBron and Cauchi, there is just a feeling that the two boys don’t really love each other. James especially showed his dislike for Leonard. It may not be very hot, but it seems quite understandable that LeBron is not exactly a Kauha #1 fan.

What about Leonard? Yes, he is reserved, but he is a rival, and Stephen A. Smith of ESPN reported, even after their second meeting this season, that Leonard told someone to tell James to stop being afraid to look at me.

Is it true? Who knows, but confusing Leonard’s reticence with weakness is a big mistake, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Kauhey really tried to get that message across to Lebron.

In total, Leonard has 15-9 records against James, including the playoffs. A nice notch in the Kauha belt, because James didn’t play in the cupcake teams either.

The best thing is that this rivalry has only just begun.

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The two men are currently playing in Los Angeles, and it looks like they will meet at some point in the playoffs. And even if they don’t, they now meet at least four times a year, and not just twice, which is enough to fuel the fire even more.

Also, for the first time since LeBron’s youth, there are people who don’t sincerely believe that he is the best player in the NBA, and some call him Kauha.

Don’t take this the wrong way: This is a real competition that will only increase in the coming years.

Al Horford, Sixers.

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