Raptors' Kawhi Leonard: 'I Don't Play Hero Basketball. I'm Not Playing for Fans'

Megan ArmstrongCorrespondent IIJune 8, 2019

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 7: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors looks on during Game Four of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors on June 7, 2019 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, 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 Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Kawhi Leonard is a man on a mission, and that mission is almost complete. 

Following his Toronto Raptors' 105-92 Game 4 win Friday night to take a 3-1 NBA Finals lead over the Golden State Warriors, the three-time All-Star bluntly described his mindset to ESPN's Doris Burke: 

ESPN @espn

"I don't play hero basketball. I'm not playing for fans. I'm just playing to win. I'm not out here trying to break records ..." —Kawhi right after taking the 3-1 lead https://t.co/rqcfo4X15I

Leonard may not care about his numbers, but his production has been indisputably dominant this postseason. Prior to his game-leading 36-point Game 4 performance, the 27-year-old was the second-leading scorer in these playoffs at 31.1 points per game. 

Outside of statistics, he has authored legendary moments such as the first Game 7 buzzer-beater in NBA history to oust the Philadelphia 76ers in the conference semifinals. 

Come Monday's Game 5, Leonard can win the ultimate prize. Should the Raptors beat Golden State once more, the franchise will claim its first-ever title. 

The title would be Leonard's second, as he won with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 while also claiming the Finals MVP.