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Kawhi Leonard Wouldn’t Allow the Spurs to Lose to the Rockets

What it’s like to watch your favorite team’s best player beat your least-favorite team by a bucket

(AP images)
(AP images)

Welcome to King of the Court, our daily celebration of the best performances in basketball from the night that was. We’ll be keeping track of the best player of every night of the NBA season, and tallying the results as we go along.

King of the Court: Kawhi Leonard

The Spurs played the Rockets. It was a close game and a tense game and a good game. In the final 30 seconds, Kawhi Leonard, whom I am in a very devoted relationship with and we hold hands all the time and it’s getting very serious and I’m thinking about introducing him to my parents, (a) hit a contested 3 to put the Spurs up two, (b) chase-down blocked James Harden’s potential game-tying layup, (c) rebounded the loose ball after LaMarcus Aldridge blocked Nene’s putback attempt, (d) got fouled, (e) made two free throws to put the Spurs up four, then (f) successfully dribbled out nearly all of the rest of the clock (after a Nene dunk brought the Rockets to within two) before throwing the ball up ahead as the buzzer was about to sound off. The Spurs won, 112–110. They should’ve lost — they trailed for the majority of the game — but they won.

Watching Kawhi Leonard play basketball is like watching Michael Phelps swim the 100-meter butterfly. Watching Kawhi Leonard play basketball is like watching Robert De Niro in that diner scene in Heat. Watching Kawhi Leonard play basketball is like watching old clips on YouTube of Michael Jackson dancing. Watching Kawhi Leonard play basketball is like watching Kanye West rap his verse from Younger Jeezy’s “I Put On.”

Watching Kawhi Leonard play basketball is like the way it feels when you slowly pull that plastic film off the screen of your new phone when you finally buy a new phone. Watching Kawhi Leonard play basketball is like when you go to the airport and every single part of the trip goes off without a hiccup. Watching Kawhi Leonard play basketball is like when you get the email you’ve been waiting for and it says all of the things you were hoping it was going to say. Watching Kawhi Leonard play basketball is like the day after you get a haircut and you just feel so fucking good about yourself. Watching Kawhi Leonard play basketball is like at dinner when you realize that you have accidentally worked it out so that your last bite is going to have just enough of each of the foods on your plate to make it perfect. Watching Kawhi Leonard play basketball is like when you’re pumping gas and it stops on the exact dollar amount — like exactly $42.00.

Watching Kawhi Leonard play basketball is like when your favorite team beats your least-favorite team by a bucket, which is precisely what happened tonight because Kawhi Leonard played basketball.