Steph Curry & LeBron Embrace Kawhi Leonard’s Troubles as Retirement Rumors Amp Up: “The Game Needs Him”

Only a day before their exhibition games began, Team USA had to suffer a major setback. Kawhi Leonard, a two-way juggernaut withdrew his participation from the upcoming Olympics. The Clippers forward came to a mutual decision with Team USA to focus on the upcoming NBA season. With his storied history of ailments, the decision seemed to be a wise call.

Leonard had spent nearly the entire postseason and the tail end of the regular season in street clothes due to a nagging knee inflammation. Alluding to his tendencies, the Clippers decided to pull Leonard. It was unfortunate. The two-time Finals MVP was thoroughly excited to play in Paris. His teammate knew that too. Stephen Curry was amongst the first to sympathize with Leonard.

“Honestly it’s a tough decision. I know he wanted to play but it’s one of those things where he wished us luck and wanted us to go get the gold… Hopefully, for the long term, he’s in a good place because the game needs him. When he’s not out there, you miss an all-time great player. We hope he’s ready for this season,” Curry told the reporters.

The recognized best player of Team USA, LeBron James too spoke with an identical sense of support for the two-time DPOY. “Obviously it was a decision that was mutual between Kawhi and USA Basketball. He was definitely looking forward to it. At the end of the day, he’s still a brother of ours. He went through training camp with us and he’s still a brother of ours. But more important, we just wish him the best and that’s all that matters,” the Akron Hammer commented.

Even for a star-laden Team USA, Leonard was an instrumental component to the success of the group. He is a master on both ends of the floor and would most likely have been a member of the starting lineup. In his absence, Team USA named Celtics’ Derrick White as his replacement.

NBA Fans irate with Kawhi Leonard opting out of Olympics

As teammates, Stephen Curry and LeBron James understood the pain and difficulty that Kawhi Leonard went through in making the decision. He looked vigorous when part of the camp and was fully focused on being an impactful piece in their gold medal ambitions. Sadly, the NBA fans have seen this story a little too often. Hence, they expressed their frustrations. “Kawhi can’t do s**t. Just retire bro,” a fan said in anger.

Leonard has never represented Team USA at any major international competition. He had a chance in 2016 to be part of the Rio Olympics squad. However, the Clippers forward declined the invite. At the time, he said it was a “difficult decision”.

Multiple fans continued to forward the same retirement message. Everybody was enraged with Leonard being absent from yet another pivotal spell, just like he has over the past few seasons, even in the NBA. “Kawhi needs to retire. Like dawg just be doing anything man. He has the strongest fans in the world I promise you cause ain’t no way”, another X user proclaimed.

The timing of the Paris Olympics came at an unfortunate time for Leonard. His knee had just started to feel better and he could actively participate in basketball activities. But the Clippers had to think from a business standpoint. Another injury to their star player would have put their entire campaign in jeopardy. That’s the reason they reached the agreement.

One of the fans actually thought the 33-year-old was retiring when he announced his withdrawal from Team USA. “Damn did Kawhi retire lol” the user said in shock when reacting to a video of Joy Taylor of FS1 commemorating Leonard’s career as a basketball superstar.

Just to clear the air, the Clippers pillar is not retiring by any means. They mainly took the decision to ensure Kawhi Leonard gets adequate rest to be fully healthy for the upcoming NBA season. It was also a suggestion that ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith presented when he spoke about the Klaw playing in Paris.

Given his rotten fate with ailments, no one is more upset than Kawhi Leonard for missing such a monumental event. It wouldn’t have just been a gold medal conquest. The Clippers star would have essentially completed basketball if he claimed the gold medal with Team USA having already amassed a colorful NBA resume with nearly all major accolades.

As it went, the timing just didn’t seem right. Just like that, the NBA fandom will have to wait till September to see Kawhi Leonard back in basketball action.

The post Steph Curry & LeBron Embrace Kawhi Leonard’s Troubles as Retirement Rumors Amp Up: “The Game Needs Him” appeared first on EssentiallySports.

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