The Los Angeles Lakers will take on the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night and, as is the custom whenever they take on someone the team has had or has interest in signing or trading for, the question of who they rooted for as a child came up, and Kawhi Leonard made it clear he was never a fan of the purple and gold. Or so he says.
Most kids growing up in Southern California had a pretty easy choice as it pertained to their NBA allegiances. Leonard wanted it known that he went against the popular pick and was not interested in rooting for the Lakers, as he told Mirjam Swanson of the OC Register.
“No, I wasn’t, I wasn’t at all,” Leonard said. “My family was, but I wasn’t.”
Young Leonard was cheering for another cornrow-rocking superstar.
“I liked Allen Iverson,” he said of the Philadelphia 76ers guard. “I was an A.I. fan, so I didn’t like the Lakers.”
I mean, if you enjoyed watching teams get obliterated in the finals, I guess rooting for the Sixers was your thing. And while we’re on the topic, Iverson winning MVP over Shaq in 2001 was objectively wrong. Shaq was in his absolute prime and was maybe the most dominant player ever at the time but sure, let’s award some dude for being 5’10” and exciting.
Leonard also comes across as the kind of guy who would root against the Lakers, too. He’s a quiet guy who very obviously likes it known that he walks to the beat of his own drum. Given the amount of success he’s enjoyed to this point, it’s hard to knock that persona.
Funny thing is, though: The internet never forgets anything.
It would seem that Leonard was offering up the answer he thought would garner the least amount of attention right now in saying that he never rooted for the Lakers. He saw the headlines of “Leonard grew up a Lakers fan” and deftly moved aside.
Given the amount of speculation about him, maybe eventually becoming a Laker, that makes sense, but he also needs to know that until he signs his next contract — wherever that might be — he’s going to be connected to the Lakers. That’s just how this works at this point. We’ll see if his childhood fandom ends up mattering in the end or not.