Paul George: Kawhi Leonard's Presence Was 'Powerful' During NBA Protest Meetings

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard, left, and Paul George talk on the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in San Antonio. Los Angeles won 134-109. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
Darren Abate/Associated Press

Kawhi Leonard may come across as a quiet and reserved superstar who singularly focuses on how he can dominate on the court, but Los Angeles Clippers teammate Paul George said he was an important voice in meetings as the NBA's players decided whether to keep playing at the Walt Disney World bubble in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

"Everybody knows Kawhi is a man of few words," George said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. "But when he speaks, it's coming from a great place and he's going to get his point across. His demeanor was felt, his presence was felt and was powerful in all our meetings."

Youngmisuk noted Clippers head coach Doc Rivers echoed the sentiment that Leonard was a calming voice in the meetings.

Leonard also issued his first public comments about the meetings:

"Didn't really know what to think at that point. Pretty much the whole league didn't want to stop playing. You know, just told them just we can't control what's going on outside.

"All we can control is what we're doing on and off the floor. Just take it one message at a time to change the racial injustice or whatever you want to do, in education or group economics. It's just up to the individual to change one mind off the floor. You know, we just stayed steady."

The Milwaukee Bucks players were the first who decided to sit out when they said they would not play Wednesday's game against the Orlando Magic, and the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder soon followed suit.

Eventually, every game scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was postponed as players decided what to do next.

Bleacher Report's Taylor Rooks reported, "Many players believed that leaving the bubble would take away their platform and felt that real change and awareness can come from working in Orlando on this big stage."

The players elected to return after the league and its players association released a joint statement Friday outlining three initiatives in the fight against systemic racism and police brutality.

The first established a joint coalition of players, coaches and governors to advocate for measures such as police reform; the second pushed governors to convert arenas into voting hubs for the 2020 election; and the third advocated for more advertising during the playoffs to raise awareness for social justice and how important it is to vote.

On the court, Leonard led the Clippers to a Game 6 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday with 33 points, ending the first-round series.