Nothing says NBA offseason like reading way too much into still images of slimmed-down players and workout videos of allegedly newly virtuosic 3-point shooters. Every NBA player is working out somewhere, but it just so happened that at UCLA on Tuesday, the winners of four of the past five Finals MVP awards were in the same gym:
Apparently there was an interesting workout at UCLA today... pic.twitter.com/WglSlSec1a— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) August 21, 2018
Oh, and Cedi Osman, too, because why not? Here are seven questions and takeaways about the picture that immediately went viral.
Have Kawhi’s Hands Grown?
Every picture of Kawhi Leonard’s hands could spawn a game of “Real or Photoshopped?” Of course, I’m not assuming any part of the aforementioned photo is doctored but, HOLY CRAP LOOK AT THOSE HANDS—THEY COVER THE ENTIRE BASKETBALL:
Kawhi’s hands… pic.twitter.com/HyYnIpyTJM— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) August 21, 2018
This is not normal! An NBA ball is about 9.5 inches in diameter with a circumference of 29.5 inches. I have decent-sized hands and can maybe palm a basketball on a good day. Kawhi makes it look like he could wind up and throw a curveball.
We the North in the South?
It’s impossible not to notice the two men wearing Raptors T-shirts in the photo, both of them presumably Raptors employees who are in L.A. to work with Kawhi during the offseason. The man between them, wearing a Jordan Brand white T-shirt, is Phil Handy, who posted the original picture on Instagram. Handy was most recently with the Cleveland Cavaliers as a director of development and assistant coach (LeBron connection!). In July, the Raptors hired Handy to complete Nick Nurse’s coaching staff. And just this week, the Raptors hired Jeremy Castleberry too, a longtime friend of Kawhi who was on the Spurs’ coaching staff while he was there. Even if reports by Adrian Wojnarowski suggest that Kawhi’s preference to play in L.A. next year hasn’t changed, Toronto is pulling out all the stops.
Let’s Talk About Kawhi’s Outfit
First, the T-shirt. A quick Google search will show that the shirt says “Fear Is an Illusion” and is available for $35 at Sears. Anyway, it’s notable that his shirt and shoes are made by Jordan Brand, given the March report that Kawhi’s camp was unhappy with the four-year, $20 million extension they were offered to stay with Nike. There’s been no update on that front. His shorts also have Kawhi’s “sliced hand” logo on them, which make them both ironically attractive and unattractive at the same time. Someone get this guy a graphic designer.
What Is Cedi Osman Doing There?
OK, so a Finals MVP, an MVP, two-time champion and two-time Finals MVP, a three-time champion, three-time Finals MVP and four-time MVP all walk into a bar with … Cedi Osman? Hell yes. I don’t know why Osman is in this picture, how he ended up in it, or why he was at this workout, but I absolutely can’t get enough of it. Why hasn’t this already become a meme in which we Photoshop an awkward-looking Osman into pictures of everything, standing just slightly out of the frame with a cheesy smile that says, “I’m just happy to be here.” The Cavaliers may not be in LeBron’s hands anymore, but it’s OK, they’re in Cedi’s hands now.
Does LeBron’s Presence Mean Anything?
LeBron’s public appearances this summer have all devolved into news. It makes sense given the fact he’s not just, well, LeBron, but also hasn’t had a press conference or given an interview since signing with the Lakers on the first day of free agency. It’s why we’re left following his extremely enjoyable, if corny, Instagram story like an RSS feed and feeling a small basketball Twitter earthquake when the Lakers tease the world with pictures from practice:
Monday workout vibes pic.twitter.com/agtwOuNop7— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 20, 2018
This is more notable than working out with the young Lakers, though. And if you want to read into this even more … will we look back at this picture when everybody in it is wearing the same uniform?
Can Working Out in a Hoodie be Anything Other Than Uncomfortable?
No. And as recent history has taught us—cough, cough, Hoodie Melo—maybe working out in an article of clothing built for cold weather and not sweat is perhaps not the best course of action. However, if anyone can do it, it’s LeBron.
How Should Warriors Fans Feel About Durant Being There?
There are two responses to this. One is to shrug it off; their team is still represented in the picture, after all. (Randy M. Williams is a close friend of Durant’s and is the one wearing a Warriors T-shirt.) The other is to look ahead to next summer, when Durant will be a free agent and this picture will be part of the many amateur investigations into where he could be headed. It’s too early for any of this to matter, and a picture is just a picture—everyone works out together in the summer. But in a relationship-based industry, there’s enough here to prompt overreactions. Also, if you look closely enough, Durant’s shirt reads: “My next chapter is still unwritten.” Just kidding. Then again, the Warriors are probably going to win the title again and then none of this will matter.