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Spurs' Kawhi Leonard Says He 'Probably Could Have Gone to the NFL'

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 1: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers on November 1, 2013 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 21, 2013

It's hard to imagine a better coach to take advantage of Kawhi Leonard's across-the-board talents than San Antonio Spurs mastermind Gregg Popovich.

But Leonard's future could just as easily have featured some drastically different coaching geniuses. Think Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin or the Harbaugh brothers.

At least, in Leonard's head it could have.

As he told Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News, Leonard could do some pretty amazing things on the football field. In fact, if not for those daily tuneup sessions, he says he might still be playing the game.

“I hated putting on pads,” Leonard said, via McDonald. “I was good. I probably could have gone to the NFL. I just hated practice.”

Leonard isn't the first hoops star to have NFL dreams. LeBron James has toyed with the idea before.

It's easy to imagine James' chiseled 6'8", 250-pound frame filling out a set of NFL pads. As for Leonard, though, he fits the gridiron's profile better than you might think:

Think he couldn't wreak some havoc split out wide with that kind of build? He did spend his football career as a wide receiver and safety before giving up the game in ninth grade, according to McDonald.

How many defensive backs could compete with his combination of size, length and mammoth mitts?

It's funny, though, that the practice field is what drove Leonard away. That doesn't exactly fit with his basketball M.O.

"Kawhi's just a gym rat," Leonard's college coach Steve Fisher said, via Slam's Jordan Conn. "He’s the guy you have to chase out of the gym."

Luckily, he chased himself off the football field. He's been a terror on the hardwood ever since (12.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game this season).

With Leonard scrapping more scouting reports by the day—the non-shooter has hit 36.4 percent of his career three-point attempts—it's hard putting anything past him.

If Leonard says he could have made the NFL, it seems like all we can do is believe him.

 

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