Image: Toronto Sun
As with many situations in the NBA, we have to start with the narrative we are fed and that narrative is that Kawhi is a Lakers fan and he wants to play for his boyhood team.
And so the lies and manipulation begin.
Kawhi is not, nor has he ever been a Los Angeles Lakers fan. He has been quoted as saying his family are, but that he himself was a fan of Allen Iverson. Would this be the same Allen Iverson who was in direct competition with the Lakers?
So we can scrap that. Before we do though, why would the Lakers have the media push this narrative? Because it fits their agenda. They want people to believe he was a Lakers fan because as the old saying goes: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth puts it’s boots on.”
So Kawhi has no love affair with the Lakers, quite the opposite, his history tells us he wanted them to lose to the Sixers and their diminutive mercurial point guard.
Kawhi is said to have questioned Magic Johnson about the disharmony in the Lakers organisation and of course, Magic played the role of faithful servant apparently and said that like any family they’ve had their differences but now it’s all good.
Really? Is Kawhi honestly meant to take comfort hearing that everything is alright from a man who had to quit his job because he was “stabbed in the back”? If I know about the infighting and the unprofessionalism that was rampant in the Lakers organisation, I’m pretty sure Kawhi does too. It’s not like the Lakers kept their dirty laundry a secret, it was on full display.
Don’t worry though, the Lakers are a much more professional outfit now, I mean it’s not like they had to ask their latest acquisition to leave $4 million on the table due to a simple numerical miscalculation or anything …
I’m hoping that Kawhi is merely being mischievous and wants to peak behind the curtain.
The simple fact of the matter – for me at least – is that the Clippers and the Raptors have EARNED their shot at Kawhi. I can’t even begin to express the admiration for what Michael Winger/Jerry West and Masai Ujiri have done with their respective teams.
The Lakers cleared house and had no plan but to get LeBron, AD, keep Kuzma and go after Kawhi.
The Raptors on the other hand methodically built a proper team with young talented players who are being coached to be better players and then they are adding the pieces needed to push them to the next level.
The Lakers are a symptom of the “I want it now” mentality that has infested our society.
Take for example the Nets, I’m not mad at them, quite the contrary. They built something and then when it was time to push on they did and the platform they built was rewarded.
Now look at the reaction from Knicks fans. I get it that this has been heartache from the 70’s so it is different but the reaction from Free Agency and the fact that in the past they would have thrown money the “problem” of not getting what they wanted is exactly why they are where they are.
Thankfully for Knicks fans, this is the first time I’ve seen them learn from their mistakes. They did draft the right player, they are bringing in some nice pieces that can help build a similar platform that of the Clippers, Raptors and Nets did and like those teams, I’d like to see them rewarded.
If Kawhi stays in Canada, he will be adored like no one has been since probably Gretzky I would imagine. He transcends the cultural boundaries which has seen Basketball as a poor relation in the Great White North. He’s literally bigger than the NBA up there.
If he goes to the Clippers then he goes home and I can respect that and he goes to do what he did in Toronto, which is to push a well assembled team as a leader to the next level.
If he goes to the Lakers? He went home but he chose the wrong team. He sold out, took the easy route and he’s joining LeBron’s team. He’s a better player than LeBron now, but anywhere that LBJ is, it’s his team and that won’t change.
This is the first time in years I can see a level of parity emerging in the NBA and Kawhi could destroy it with the flick of his wrist. I’m not suggesting that it’s his fault or decrying him for it, but with great power comes great responsibility.
Maybe Kawhi wants the easy life, but he’s 28 and if that’s how he’s thinking now then he’s not the man I think he is.
You see, Kawhi to me is a lot like his hero, A.I. – sure maybe not in style but, just like him his true worth is not in winning or losing but in how he wins or loses – He’s a hero, a throwback to an age where super teams didn’t exist. He may not have stood pat like the legends of yesteryear but he’s never took the easy way out, just like Iverson didn’t.
If Kawhi joins the Lakers it does not dilute from the mystique of what he has already achieved but it does however tarnish anything he might achieve from now on.
I still think he will channel his inner A.I. and do it his way and if he does, he cements his legacy as the man from the new school who brought back what we loved most about the old school.
Maybe not the hero we deserve, but the hero we need.