f a Kawhi Leonard load manages his body in Toronto and the NBA isn’t around to hear it, does it make a sound?
The absolute outrage over the past few days because the two-time Finals MVP was ruled out of an ESPN televised game against the Milwaukee Bucks has been perplexing from a Raptors perspective because one can’t help but wonder where all this criticism was during his time in Toronto. Leonard has now played six out of eight games in the 2019-20 season, twice missing one end of a back-to-back. This isn’t new.
Sure, the situation is different because instead of coming off a nine-game season in which his right quadriceps tendinopathy was largely a mystery, Leonard is now fresh off a 60-game regular season and 24-game playoff run that culminated in hoisting the Larry O.B., as he likes to call it.
But the problem with that view is that it barely scratches the surface of where his body’s at now and what it endured during that legacy-defining run.
Leonard didn’t participate in both halves of a back-to-back for the entirety of the 2018-19 season as part of Raptors sports science guru Alex McKechnie’s plan to ensure his body didn’t suffer, and he still hit a roadblock in progressing his health in the middle of January. After playing 45 minutes of a double-overtime win against the Washington Wizards that saw him limp to the finish line, he piled on another 36 high-leverage minutes for a tight Jan. 16 game in Boston.