When the dust clears on the 2020 NBA playoffs, there will be a new king in the Association.
He will hail from L.A., the Staples Center.
His resume will be swole, on steroids, if you will — for doing what most didn’t think would be possible.
The king will be Kawhi Leonard.
And no, don’t insert that crazy Kawhi laugh that sports-talk radio stations have been playing as a drop since the day he uttered the famous chuckle that people can’t get enough of.
To the contrary, the NBA will be in tears. Leonard, the Los Angeles Clippers’ star, will have both destroyed and conquered the competition.
Enter LeBron James. The current face of the NBA will be dethroned — and on not one front, but two.
The league will be in awe of Leonard. Somehow, the soft-spoken, non-diva star will have finally made the Clippers World Champions after decades of drowning in losses and futility. Like the Washington Generals, the Clippers were never supposed to win.
But there, in the Orlando Bubble, they will be holding up the championship trophy. And Leonard will be the reason why — again.
And when it happens. It would mean that Leonard had won back-to-back titles with two different teams after winning a title with the Toronto Raptors last year.
Leonard’s feat will be even more mind-boggling when you realize that both teams had never won jack before he put on either uniform.
And the final piece, the crowning moment that won’t be up for debate is that Leonard had become the first player in NBA history to LEAD three different teams to championships.
LeBron, in what was considered to be his best last chance to win a title in his career, will not only be considered old, but old news.
Worse, the notion that James was, somehow, still alive in the GOAT conversation with Michael Jordan will finally be put to rest. Even his minions would be hard-pressed to push that flimsy narrative.
And even James falling short of yet another trip to the Finals won’t save him. Think about it, the Clippers probably will save him from hanging another “L” on his Finals record.
Still, most will not want to hear any excuses. After all, in Vegas, the Lakers were considered the favorites after the stellar season they put together with the addition of big man Anthony Davis. They were the No. 1 seed in the big, bad Western Conference. LeBron and the Lakers were supposed to win. For the Clippers to have won, it will have meant that Leonard had stopped that juggernaut in its tracks.
And it wouldn’t be the first time. That’s what Leonard has done. Ask Spurs coach Greg Popovich. He wouldn’t listen to Leonard’s injury concerns. Leonard forced his way out of San Antonio. And since, Leonard is still flourishing. The Spurs, on the other hand, had their 22-year playoff streak snapped this season.
And don’t forget. Leonard also will have spurned LeBron and won, too. James thought he was going to land Kawhi in free agency last summer. Along with Davis, it would have given the Lakers a three-headed monster like never before.
For sure, Leonard would have been on easy street had he gone to the Lakers. Instead, he chose to link up with Paul George and the NBA’s laughingstocks: the Clippers.
Instead of joining royalty with LeBron, he settled for the court jesters to go ball with.
It will be the ultimate betting on yourself and winning.
And don’t try to use load management against Leonard. That’s the only thing people can find to deny his greatness. Obviously, Leonard knows what he’s doing with his body and it has worked. Since the San Antonio mess, teams have decided that Kawhi knows best. It worked in Toronto. And it will work in Los Angeles, too.
Leonard hasn’t always been money. For sure, Leonard, in his second year in the league, helped James win a championship. Leonard, just 21, had a great chance to seal the title for the San Antonio Spurs in 2013.
But he missed one of his free throws in Game 6 against the Miami Heat. It left the door open for a miracle game-tying three by Ray Allen. The Heat wound up winning the game in OT and Game 7, too, to steal the championship.
No one is perfect. Not even the future king of the NBA.