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May 29, 2019

Kawhi Leonard

Toronto, Ontario - Practice Day

Q. Curious about, can you take me back to a first memories of when you first played in The Finals like what kind of nerves there are there, and if you still feel any of those right now.
KAWHI LEONARD: Just anxiousness, wanting to get to the game and play. When I was young my first Finals, 20, probably second year in the league, and not knowing really what to expect. But after that, going into my second one, you pretty much know what to expect, and we were playing the same team. It's just the same basketball game. It's five-on-five. It's still two hoops. So you just go out there and play hard and live with the results.

Q. Just wondering, before coming to Toronto your impressions of Toronto as a basketball city and now having played and lived here how those impressions changed at all.
KAWHI LEONARD: Yeah, now you get to see how it is every day for 41 games. Before you would come, you know that their crowd does come out when you're playing here on the road.

But also I was in the West, so I only played them once a year. Like I said, now I'm here for 41 games during the regular season and you get to live in a city, see guys or girls wearing hats, jerseys, how much support is really around the city. Now in the Playoffs you get to see everybody outside the arena and seeing how excited they are for the game and how much support is there, too.

It's been an exciting year. That's what pretty much changed for me, just being able to see it visually and, like I said, I'm in and out during the regular season.

Q. Draymond Green recently called himself the best defender of all time. You're right there with him and you have as many All-Defensive appearances and First Team as he does. I'm wondering if you could compare yourself on defense to him and talk about what it is that gives you so much ability on that side of the ball.
KAWHI LEONARD: I think he should feel that way about himself. You have to come into these games confident and know what can you do on the floor. I don't know how to just compare myself against him. I don't really do that. Just for myself and what I bring to the game, I guess we both can switch one through four, one through five on the floor. Both bring energy to the game. We want to play defense. We want to stop the player in front of us. And that's pretty much it. He's leading them on that end of the floor as well.

Q. Along the same lines, because you are such a good defensive player, such a great defensive player, how much does that help you on the offensive end prepare for game, prepare for a series, and as you try to work through figuring out what the Warriors are going to try to do against you in certain situations?
KAWHI LEONARD: The thing that helps me is we might get a steal, help my team get an easy look in transition or being able to play defense, we limit them to one shot, probably get a rebound, come down on offense again with some pace, I guess that helps. I mean, but it's two different sides of basketball. It's not like just because I get a stop, I'm going to make a shot or do a good move.

Q. But do you think because you have such an understanding of the defensive end, do you think that helps you out as an offensive player when you try to figure out what Andre or Klay or Draymond is going to do against you, whoever is in front of you at a given moment?
KAWHI LEONARD: Not really. I never really thought of it that way, but maybe. There are good offensive players that are not good defensive players and there are the other way around -- good defense, not good offense. So I think it just really comes to being smart and just being in those situations before and just knowing what's going to happen, going through years of playing and seeing defensive schemes or offensive schemes and watching film and seeing how they guarded other guys or me in the past.

Q. I think most coaches and players in this league would put you among the very best players in the NBA. But you probably don't have as much popular fame as some other guys like LeBron and Stephen Curry. Do you prefer to fly under the radar a little? Does it ever bother you that you don't have as much notoriety as some other guys?
KAWHI LEONARD: No, I'm not playing the game for that reason. I'm playing to have fun and try to be the best player I can be. I'm happy with myself and what I have done in my career and I'm just going to keep on from there. It's not about me being famous or want to have more fame than those guys. It's about me playing basketball and having fun on the floor.

Q. Obviously there's a lot more distractions when you get to this level, we're seeing that today. They're a team that's been here now five straight times. They have got guys that have experience, there are a lot of guys in your locker room that don't have experience dealing with this kind of attention, this hoopla, the circus that surrounds the NBA Finals. I know you've been there before. What do you tell the guys? Do you have advice for those guys?
KAWHI LEONARD: Yeah, going to the Eastern Finals on this team, and as each series goes, you get more media or asked more questions about what's going on. But I think once this is over, it's still between the lines. You're playing five-on-five. We're still playing basketball. We have a scheme. Just focus on that and don't focus on the outside attention. We know what we need to do here inside this locker room every day, so don't pay attention to people who are not in your locker room.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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