Kawhi Leonard is playing at a superstar level in the NBA playoffs and Finals, but he knows where some of his overall work ethic and mentality to the game came from: his time with the Big 3 in San Antonio.
Leonard was asked prior to Game 2 of the NBA Finals how he keeps calm in big moments.
The former Spurs all-star forward gave credit to Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili for helping him early in his career.
“Coming right in as rookie probably helped me, just guarding the best player every night, just always wanting to win,” said Leonard. “Learning from the great teammates I had then from Tim, Tony and Manu.”
Leonard said the Big 3’s approach to playoff and NBA Finals games was also a major factor in helping him improve every year.
The Spurs went to the Western Conference Finals in Leonard’s rookie season. That was followed with back-to-back NBA Finals appearances.
The Spurs won the 2014 NBA Finals and Leonard was named series MVP.
“Just seeing how they approached the game, every game, win or lose, (whether it was) missing a shot or making a bad mistake,” Leonard said. “I guess just growing up and being in these moments before. I just try to take my experiences and keep moving forward.”
Leonard has had a stellar postseason, carrying Toronto to the franchise’s first NBA Finals appearance.
He may not be welcomed with open arms by many Spurs fans after demanding a trade in the offseason, but he said he credits a part of his success to what he learned during his time in San Antonio.
Game 4 of the NBA Finals will be played on Wednesday night in Oakland.
The series between the Raptors and Warriors is tied 1-1.