As Kawhi Leonard plays the most impressive basketball of his NBA career, The Athletic’s Jayson Jenks checked in with Leonard’s teammates from his two seasons at San Diego State. It may not shock you to learn that Leonard was, even then, a man of few words. But the words that he did select were perfect:
DJ Gay, guard: The most he talked was on the hard court, and Kawhi was not afraid to let you know that you weren’t going to score on him, that you couldn’t get past him or that he would score on you. Every time the ball went through the net, he just said, “Bucket. Bucket.” That was it.
Tyrone Shelley, guard: Most people say it like, “Oh, I’m about to get buckets on you.” He was just like, “Buckets. Layup.” Just one word.
Tim Shelton, forward: He’d be like, “You’re not scoring. You’re not doing anything.” Or he’d be like, “No, no, no.” He’d just move his feet and say, “No.”
Gay: You couldn’t score on him, so that’s what he would say: “Nope, nope, nope.” And when he would score on you: “Bucket. Bucket.”
LaBradford Franklin, guard: If he was grabbing a rebound, he’d say, “Give me that” or “Board man” or “Board man gets paid.”
Justin Hutson, assistant coach: If I heard it once, I heard it 50 times. “Board man. I’m a board man.” That’s what he said. Absolutely. “I’m a board man. Yeah, I’m a board man. Board man gets paid.” He spoke in phrases like that.
The Board Man has since made $84 million in NBA salary. Kawhi Leonard has never told a lie.