Former San Antonio Spurs regular Bruce Bowen didn’t hold back in taking Kawhi Leonard to task in an interview with Sirius XM NBA Radio on Thursday.
Bowen called out Leonard for sitting out all but nine of the Spurs’ games last season due to a controversial bout with quadriceps tendinopathy. Various reports over the last few months have indicated Leonard and the Spurs disagreed about the nature of the injury, how to treat it and how soon Leonard would be able to return to the floor, which has played its part in the star forward reportedly wanting out of San Antonio.
Bowen said during the radio interview, “First, it was, ‘Well, I was misdiagnosed.’ Look here: You got $18 million this year, and you think that they’re trying to rush you? You didn’t play for the most part a full season this year. And you’re the go-to guy, you’re the franchise, and you want to say that they didn’t have your best interest at heart? Are you kidding me?”
“Not one time has Kawhi come out and said anything to the effect of, ‘You know what, hey, I really enjoy being in San Antonio.’ Or, ‘I can’t stand what’s going on here in San Antonio,’” Bowen added. “Not one time has he said anything.”
Bowen won three NBA championships in his eight seasons with the Spurs. He was a defensive stalwart during that time, being named to the NBA all-defensive first team five years in a row from 2004-08.
Bowen also took exception to Leonard rehabbing in New York instead of rejoining the team.
“As a player, if I’m a leader of a team, my team goes on the road in the playoffs, I’m with my guys,” Bowen said. “Because that’s what it’s all about. It’s about camaraderie. It’s about fellowship. It’s a brotherhood. When that didn’t happen, it’s all kinds of sirens and alarm signals that says to me, ‘Is this person fully vested?’ ... I don’t want to take on a player who’s not willing to support his guys during the course of their time needing him.”
General manager RC Buford said Thursday the Spurs will “explore all of our options” but ultimately hope to mend fences with Leonard and keep the soon-to-be-27-year-old All-Star in San Antonio.
An ESPN report in May said the Spurs were worried Leonard’s group — led by uncle Dennis Robertson and agent Mitch Frankel — intentionally sought to sabotage the team’s relationship with Leonard in hopes of getting him traded to a larger market.
“I think he’s getting bad advice,” Bowen said. “I think what you’re starting to see now is an individual given a certain amount of advice, and it’s not the right advice.”
—Field Level Media