The San Antonio Spurs wouldn’t normally praise the likes of Kawhi Leonard for not playing basketball, but there is a good reason for it.
Leonard withdrew himself from the player pool for the U.S. basketball team set to play in the FIBA World Cup in late August. His main cause for backing away from representing his country in the game he loves was to rest, which shows how far beyond his years he is mentally.
Now you would think the 23-year-old Leonard would be fresh and ready to hoop at a moment’s notice — and he very we may be ready — but he wants to be ready for an even bigger task in defending his first NBA championship.
He is taking note of veteran teammates like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who struggled physically this year with fatigue and injury due to offseason basketball. Parker spent all of last summer carrying his French national team to victory in the Eurobasket tournament. Ginobili is guilty of the same infraction, as he even plans on playing for Argentina this fall in the World Cup.
But Leonard sees the bigger picture, knowing that this upcoming season will not be a walk in the park for aging Spurs. There is going to be much expected of the NBA Finals MVP this year, with the “Big Three” era be phased out and the “Kawhi” era taking form. The veteran — or maybe not, considering Parker and Ginobili — move by Leonard to sit out of the national festivities will pay big dividends come June of 2015.