NBA / Jun 13, 2014 / 4:45 pm

If Spurs Clinch On Sunday, It Will Be Bittersweet For Kawhi Leonard

LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Bosh

LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Bosh (Steve Mitchell- USA TODAY Sports)

The Spurs have been dominant during the past two games in Miami, and Kawhi Leonard has played a huge part in both of their blowout wins. After scoring just 18 points in the first two games of the series, he put up 29 points in Game 3 and was the best player on the court in last night’s win. The Spurs are now up 3-1 in the series and have a chance to clinch on Sunday, which is also Father’s Day. If they do, it will be bittersweet for the Spurs forward after what happened six years prior.

After last night’s game, everyone was in a rush to praise Kawhi’s performance, and deservedly so:

But I was also made aware about the importance of Father’s Day for the Spurs’ rising star:

By way of Eric Sondheimer of The Los Angeles Times, Mark Leonard — Kawhi’s father — was shot and killed in 2008 at the car wash he owned in Compton, CA. He was 43 years old at the time of the shooting. Six years later, no arrest has been made in connection with the murder. Kawhi was a high schooler at the time. The night after his father’s death, he played for Riverside King despite a heavy heart:

The 6-foot-7 junior forward managed to score 17 points for King in a 68-60 loss, then broke down and cried in his mother’s arms, releasing all his emotions from learning 24 hours earlier that his father had been shot to death.

It was a scene with so much sorrow and distress that I turned my head and walked away, not wanting to violate a private moment played out in public near the west tunnel at Pauley.

A few years after the incident, Kawhi spoke with Jeff Goodman of FOX Sports about his father’s passing:

“I’m not sure what happened,” Leonard said. “I really don’t know anything other than someone random came to the car wash and shot him.”

Three years have passed and no one has been arrested in the murder. Frank Salerno of the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department told the Los Angeles Times that the case likely will go unsolved because of a lack of cooperation among potential witnesses.

“I think it’s better for me not knowing who it is,” Leonard said.

When asked what his father would think about his stellar play at San Diego State, which eventually landed him with the Spurs, Kawhi simply replied, “I think he’d be proud of me.”

If the Spurs can clinch the title on Sunday, expect the usually stoic Kawhi Leonard to become a bit emotional, and for good reason. It will be a wonderful accomplishment for a player in just his third NBA season, but more importantly, it will be a chance to make his father proud once more.

What do you think?

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  • Jacinto Lumanog

    as a fan im proud of your game…

  • JohnLElkins

    By way of Eric Sondheimer of The Los Angeles Times, Mark Leonard — Kawhi’s father — was shot and killed in 2008 at the car wash he owned in Compton, CA. He was 43 years old at the time of the shooting. Six years later, no arrest has been made in connection with the murder. Kawhi was a high schooler at the time. http://0rz.tw/vB6uT

  • 2cents

    Thanx for putting those facts together Steve. I respect NBA players have a personal side, but when I hear some of their stories who made them who they are, it warms my heart to hear them having gone through so much heartbreak to make their dreams come true.

    I don’t want to jinx it for the Spurs (we have seen collapses in the NBA Finals before), but I think after last year’s result, it would be great to see the Spurs clinch it in front of their fans.

  • narcissistic jack

    How can you make a dead person proud? No disrespect to him or his father, but it’s a game. Watching him in this finals and witnessing one of the best finals performances in recent memory (considering having to cover one of if not the greatest ever and produce efficiently on offense for the spurs to have this comfortable position with an almost certain championship in hand) does make for a story, but really? An entire article just because his dad died on Father’s Day. Man dimemag will search anywhere and everywhere for a pointless semi-interesting fact then post an entire article on their website must mean people are far to easily impressed with coincidence or they are just dumb. Christopher Wallace died on my birthday (not year thankfully maybe i should become an article writer for some half ass online publication and write my coincidence too. Hell if good basketball mixed with a coincidence can make it on here sign me up. I’m sure i can find a rare somewat meaningless (not his father’s death) coincidence and put together a much more intriguing article. Sorry Stephen I’m sure you thought with all the murder details and the date coincidence you had a gem of an article but honestly i enjoyed hating on it more than reading it.

    Sincerley Narcissistic Rick

  • narcissistic jack

    If he really wanted to make him proud or man up he should spend his time, money and resources to open an investigation, try to find the murderer and bring him to justice. But that wouldn’t make for a pointless coincidental story. Would be much more admirable and “heartwarming” to respect your father enough to at least hire investigators to try to solve his murder, but he’d would probably prefer spending the money it cost designing his living room on that rather than using that money to do everything he could to get some closure. Now that would be heartwarming. Maybe not as heartwarming as throwing a ball through a net on the anniversary of his father’s death but still almost as satisfying as a championship ring. If or when they win maybe he can wear it every father’s day out of remembrance. By the way i don’t see many details on the father, he could have been a scumbag who beat the hell out of him daily. But really this article is so heartwarming and shows peronal sides (not exactly sure where but” they should do a 60 minute special or a 30 for 30 on it. Sorry steve i know I’m an ass who is bored but i like to troll from time to time,

  • Joyce Baldwin Montgomery

    been a fan of the Spurs for years. for Kawhi to share his story about his father must be very hard especially since his murder has gone Unsolved for all these years.

    Kawhi, your father is proud of you. keep up the great work you are doing on the courts. bring home the win on Sunday and make not only your dad proud but the rest of your family and fans. you are a great addition to this team and don’t let trolls and negative comments bother or mess with you. they are just jealous of your talent.


  • Troll Hater Pab

    You are a jackass.
    Sincerley Troll Hater Pab

  • Jim Bob

    Leonard is the man. With all the praise going to other players, this young man has always been classy and superbly talented. I wish him all the best. He deserves it.

  • Bruce

    You live in your mom’s basement.

  • Nano

    shut up stupid narcissistic jack! get yourself a job dickhead!

  • Sickofit

    You truly are an “ass” narcissistic jack. You have no way of knowing what was of importance to this young man’s father and what would make him proud. I cannot put into words how absolutely stupid you sound speaking against a deceased person of whom you obviously know nothing about. Truly, truly, AN ASS YOU ARE.

  • Kay Jackson

    haven’t heard a bad thing against him, everyone loves Kawhi!!!!! le him on the Spurs team and for his Spirit.!!!

  • Kay Jackson

    true=u are sad!!!

  • disqus_sICBoG3zwt

    That is the rudest thing to say. He has his reasons for not wanting to know and it isnt any of your business and you don’t need to agree with them. His mom has talked in an interview saying that Kawhi and his father were extremely close and he was always present in his life.

  • Sarah Rivas

    It’s about honoring a memory. I don’t believe in heaven, but I do hope whatever I achieve in life will make my grandmother proud, as she passed away when I was eleven.

  • narcissistic jack

    I know that dead people cant be proud…

  • narcissistic jack

    I live in your mom’s basement

  • narcissistic jack

    I have two and go to school. Thanks

  • narcissistic jack

    I hope i win the lottery

  • Diana Wilson

    I think Kawhi has well earned the series MVP, and hope SAS keeps on keeping on tonight to win it 4-1. Heat has no bench, and past LBJ – not much heart.

  • Danny D

    Finals MVP! So proud of him

  • Sickofit

    Really? Did you learn that when you were dead? How the hell would you know?!