Wob: Kawhi Leonard Chooses the Clippers and Embraces the Unknown


Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kawhi Leonard

  • Kawhi Leonard chose to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers early Saturday morning, eschewing the chance to play for the Lakers alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
  • The ripple effects are many, but as Rob Perez writes, Kawhi's embracing of the unknown has given us a rare gift: a truly wide-open NBA title race.

The date was June 1, 1998. It was one of the most-anticipated WCW Monday Night Nitros of all-time. For months leading up to it, wrestling fans and millions of viewers worldwide had observed Sting — the notoriously cryptic, introverted, yet supremely-talented superstar — stalk his opponents from the rafters of arenas and wreak havoc on the established order. While operating simultaneously as wrestling’s version of both The Dark Knight and the joker — the villain everyone deserved but not the one they needed — he was actively being recruited by the two main gangs on WCW’s center stage: the NWO Black & White, and their separatist rebellion, the NWO Wolfpack.

Alas, during the main event, Sting descended from the roof for the final time as a rogue outlaw.

After setting the Black & White up with false hope, he blindsided them with his decision to join the Wolfpack and the wrestling world was never the same again.

Sting had always performed as a recluse, keeping his motivations, strategies, and business private from the world. While the likes of Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and The Giant dominated with flamboyance — it was a spectacle to watch them operate always looking over their shoulder in case the elusive neutralizer ever decided to make his presence known.

It’s this enigma that drove the popularity of Sting’s character. He could be sitting in a chair watching paint dry and it would command the attention of thousands of people in an arena no matter what was happening in the ring. Anything he said or did would end up on a t-shirt, in a promo cut for commercials, or be talked about among the masses the next day.

Sounds awfully familiar to someone we know, doesn’t it?

Kawhi Leonard shows just one bit of emotion, and it becomes one of the most viral moments we’ve ever seen. He describes himself in two words with wretched honesty, and it ends up on a t-shirt and becomes the storefront slogan of New Balance’s entire business. He’s caught on candid camera by a teammate inquiring his mood, and his response instantly reforms “what’s up?” as the standard greeting among friends.

While the evolution of technology and social media has certainly fueled this marketing revolutionary, Kawhi’s apathy for recognition has proven to be the quintessential path to attraction. Curiosity is a damning passion of the human mind. Humans are flawed in the way we want what we can’t have, thus, we are oftentimes willingly accept fiction as fact and dig deeper into warming confines of the echo chamber to quench the thirst of the unknown.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Paul George and Kawhi Leonard

In the case of Kawhi, the “unknown” stretches to unprecedented levels. The time it took him to make his decision to join the Los Angeles Clippers was excruciating. It only took 7 days, but minutes before the confirmation felt like hours.

Not knowing what he truly wanted from this experience or his upcoming endeavor is still puzzling even after the dust has settled. What ultimately convinced him to leave behind an entire country of support to join a team that he will share every aspect of basketball with two other stars, on and off the court, will forever be a mystery.

Despite adding two of the league’s top 10 players to a team that made the playoffs last year and being booked by casinos as the favorites to win the 2020 championship, Leonard’s new team remains an unknown.

If the end of the dynasty Golden State Warriors taught us anything, it’s that nobody is invincible from the wrath of Father Time; that the clouds of an empire can’t reign unless they fall. Even the mythological immortals had their spots of vulnerability, and now trusting the health of three superstars with recent injury histories will truly test the franchise’s karmic standing with the basketball gods; if their seven-year sacrifice of draft control was worthy of their blessing.

Let’s give the Clippers the benefit of the doubt and assume they make it through the 2019-20 campaign unscathed, we are likely witnessing the most powerful weapon to bless the sacred 92 feet of hardwood.

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