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June 6, 2019

Kawhi Leonard

Oakland, California - Practice Day

Q. A hot topic of conversation always in the media is legacy, right, a player's legacy. When you left San Antonio, some were a little confused as to maybe where your career was heading, maybe you got a little backlash, some questioned how that would affect your legacy. Now you're here in Toronto, you're having a great season. You're having one of the best postseasons ever, 13 games with at least 30 points. And some are comparing you to Michael Jordan and saying how this could really positively affect your legacy. Is legacy, as it's portrayed by the media, important to you?
KAWHI LEONARD: I mean, I've never been one of those guys that growing up in high school getting all the media and the college media, so I don't really think my legacy is going to ever reach the potentials of Michael Jordan and how the media followed them since they were a rookie.

But as far as me just -- I just want to play and just let people remember that I played hard at both ends of the floor, I was a winner, and that's basically it. I'm just here enjoying my dream, having fun. I mean, legacy is going to be opinionated by each person, but I'm just playing right about myself really and what I feel, what makes me happy.

Q. But is it important to you how things have changed in the last few years and how you've been portrayed in the media?
KAWHI LEONARD: It really doesn't matter. I didn't make a decision off the media or what people thought of me. Like I said, I made it off my own personal views and what I seen and how I felt as a person to make myself happy.

Q. Wanted to get your view from one two-way player to another, just what you see in Klay's game that makes him so special defensively.
KAWHI LEONARD: Just wanting to do it, I guess. Moving his feet, contesting shots, wanting to play defense. Quick feet, like I said. That's what makes you a good defender, just wanting to be able to do it, locking into your opponent and wanting to make a stop.

Q. So effort is the key piece to you in terms of why people are good defenders and why they're not?
KAWHI LEONARD: Yeah, for sure. Obviously the skill comes into play, like I said, having quick feet, able to read shots, contesting.

Q. How much more are you convinced of this team's ability to win a title now than, say, were you when the playoffs started?
KAWHI LEONARD: I mean, it's the same mindset. If we didn't feel like we could be here, we wouldn't be here right now. Simple as that. I have the same confidence. You can't let losses or wins affect that. It's about what you think and feel that's in your body, your inner thoughts and you know what you portray to your team and what your team is telling you and what we all feel. And that's why we are here, we have confidence.

Q. As a follow-up, I mean, everyone wants to get a split on the road and kind of job done. How valuable, how important would it be to win both here at Oracle?
KAWHI LEONARD: I mean, it would be very important. I mean, it would be a third win, and you need four to win. You already know how important that is. It's 3-1.

Q. You played for one of the greatest coaches of all time in Gregg Popovich, and now you're playing for Nick Nurse, first year. How impressed have you been with how he's handled his first year as a coach, and do you think maybe he's underappreciated?
KAWHI LEONARD: He's done a great job. We're in The Finals his first year, I mean, what else could you expect or want from a first-year coach other than a championship? I think he handled himself well. I really don't know what people are portraying of him. I don't read the media or see what you guys are saying about him, so -- but I think he's been doing a great job.

Q. Is there any element of his coaching that reminds you of a Popovich or any other coach you've had before?
KAWHI LEONARD: Just competitive nature. He's able to change schemes quickly, adjust. But it's tough to compare somebody that's been coaching for 20 years and this is his first year in the NBA, even though he coached, been a head coach in other levels. So, I mean, it's just hard to compare that. It's like a rookie, you compare him to a 15-year veteran, that's a Hall of Fame vet, you know.

Q. You're taking about five shots a game less than you were in the previous rounds. Is that game plan? Is that the way things are working out? Just circumstantial?
KAWHI LEONARD: I mean, it doesn't matter. As long as we win, I don't even -- I didn't even know that. Like I said, it's not about me. I'm not here to play hero basketball. If there's two or three guys on me, I'm going to make sure somebody gets the ball and they're going to knock down a shot.

Obviously it is the Finals, so it's probably a little bit more attention on me on the Warriors' side and not letting Kawhi get going and make his teammates beat us.

But other than that, whatever shot attempts that I get, you just got to make them and see where it goes from there. Can't be hero basketball. Just because people want to see me beat these records or want me to score 30 points does not mean I have to do that. I have to go out there and try to win a basketball game, either that's shots being limited on the offensive end and I'm going in playing harder on the defensive end, trying to get us five more shots for somebody else.

Q. Last night Kyle went into the crowd and was shoved by a fan who turns out to be a minority investor with the Warriors. Wondering what you think of the way Kyle handled it, how vulnerable a player is in that situation, and knowing that this was a part owner of the team, how you feel about what should be done.
KAWHI LEONARD: The league will figure that out. Kyle handled it great. He kept playing. I think he told the referee what happened. He probably thought about it five seconds and then got back to the game, which is important, not taking any possessions off reminiscing on what a fan did or an owner.

That's how it is. These fans are coming out watching the game, they feel like they're on the team. They're competitive as well, probably a little bit under the influence, and things like that happen. This isn't the first time we have seen something like that.

We have to do a better job, the NBA, just of making sure these fans don't come in and think they can just touch guys and hit them. That's a little extreme. All the name calling and things like that is okay, other than disrespecting your family, talking about us, but other than putting your hands on someone, that's disrespectful.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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