Last summer, after firmly establishing himself as the NBA’s best two-way player, Kawhi Leonard signed a five-year, $95 million contract with the San Antonio Spurs. In the eight months since, he's gone on a spending spree that would make his always understated teammate Tim Duncan proud — which is to say, he hasn’t spent much of it at all:
Leonard spends his summers in a two-bedroom apartment in San Diego, where he hangs a mini hoop over one door so he can play 21 against [his friend] Castleberry. He carries a basketball in his backpack even when he isn't going to the gym. He often drives a rehabbed '97 Chevy Tahoe, nicknamed Gas Guzzler, which he drove across Southern California's Inland Empire as a teenager. "It runs," Leonard explains, "and it's paid off."
That’s from a brilliant Lee Jenkins profile in Sports Illustrated that reveals Leonard to be the kind of NBA personality that the San Antonio Spurs would concoct in a lab if they were into that kind of Frankenstein shit. Leonard is reserved and modest, and always has been: In high school his stats were often credited to another player. "Doesn't matter," he would say. And even though he does own a Porsche, the 24-year-old prefers to drive around the 19-year-old SUV.
There there’s this:
He is happy to sponsor Wingstop, which sends him coupons for free wings, so he can feed his Mango Habanero addiction. This winter, after his $94 million contract kicked in, he panicked when he lost his coupons. Wingstop generously replenished his supply.
Leonard is a hooptie-driving, coupon-clipping, social media-shunning, Jenga-playing introvert. These qualities in a normal man would not be unusual. But the combination of a ordinary man's personality with an extraordinary man's talent is always notable. If only because it can make a guy at home on his computer with a crap car in the garage feel a little but more like a superstar himself.