In just his third NBA season, Kawhi Leonard won a championship. Leonard was quite instrumental in San Antonio's 2014 championship, winning Finals MVP and showing that he could lead the Spurs into a new era after their Big 3 of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili officially retire.
Since then, the Spurs have given Leonard more responsiblility on the team and even signed him to a long-term, max contract this past summer. All of this is exactly what Leonard wants but he's not motivated by the money or personal accolades. Leonard only wants to rekindle his experience in 2014 and win more championships. Like a lot more. Like more than his teammate Duncan currently has under his belt.
“My motivation wasn’t really to get a $95 million contract, you know? I’m not out here just for the money. I want to be a great player. I don’t feel anything changed. I already had money and security. You definitely see a difference in some guys’ games when they do get paid. I’m trying to make sure I’m not that player.”
“I’m just trying to be the best player I can be,” said Leonard, who averaged 19.2 points and shot 53.9 percent (40.6 percent behind the 3-point arc) over the final two months of last season. “I’m just trying to pass Tim Duncan in championships if I can one day. That’s my motivation, that’s what I strive for. Tim is one of the greatest players who has ever played, so if I could get close or reach that plateau and have my name on that list ...”
In his 19-year career, Duncan has won the championship five times. A feat that is quite impressive yet is very possible for Leonard to achieve. Especially if he keeps playing like he has been. In San Antonio's first two games of the season, Leonard has averaged 24.0 points (an eight point increase from last season), nine rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.5 blocks.
With the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge this past offseason, the Spurs are yet again a championship contender. But while Aldridge may have been the splashy offseason signing, Leonard is the one player on the Spurs that will come to rely on throughout the season and into the playoffs. Which is great for San Antonio since all Leonard cares about is winning not one but five more championships.