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The San Antonio Spurs can take some solace in how they are doing as a team at the moment. After an uneven first month where their playoff hopes were at risk, a healthy Kawhi Leonard has come back and turned in a very impressive showing. He now leads the league in scoring with more than 15 points per game, and is just two behind Stephen Curry in the NBA MVP race.
This weekend, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich took Leonard to a local barbecue joint in a bid to inspire his team and his new player. During the lunch, which also included the Spurs benching an injured Kawhi Leonard, Spurs stars Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili gave off a positive vibe. During a round of “Who the hell is that guy” jokes with the other big men, Parker responded, “He’s the guy I’m watching tonight.” Ginobili chimed in, “That thing he does for a living is amazing.”
Leonard and Ginobili are two good friends in the Bay Area. They’ve always gotten along well together, and they’re still good friends (even when they’re both on the other side of the country in the NBA) despite having been separated for nine seasons. The Spurs got to know Leonard very well thanks to San Antonio Express-News reporter Mark Medina during the 2008 All-Star game, and Ginobili even visited the Spurs training facility after signing with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2013. So it was only a couple of years ago when Popovich met with Leonard during the summer and gave him a hug. Since then, Popovich has kept in close contact with him by attending the Spurs’ games, and by sharing an occasional story with him.
During this summer, Leonard has been attending the Spurs’ camp for young prospects and helping out with special projects, such as a youth basketball gym he’s building at his new home in Marina Del Rey. He’s been an important cog in an impressive frontcourt group, and his positive attitude, and the fact that Ginobili, Parker and Manu Ginobili, have always been his biggest friends during his time in the Bay Area are very much the reason that the Spurs have enjoyed some good results already this season.
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