Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, but his celebratory acceptance speech took a serious turn.
“I stole the ball from someone one hundred and twenty-eight times this season,” a tearful Leonard said at the podium, surrounded by family and teammates. “The ball did not belong to me, yet I took it anyway.”
Leonard went on to explain that, while the act of stealing is “technically within the rules” of the game of basketball, it was “not how my mother raised me to act on the court or in life.”
Leonard then participated in a blowout game one win over the Memphis Grizzlies, in which Leonard tallied 20 points, three blocks, and four heavily apologetic steals in 29 minutes.
“I don’t want to take this [ball] from you, but reducing the number of your team’s offensive possessions puts the Spurs in a better position to win,” Leonard was overheard saying to Lance Stephenson as he cruised down the court for a breakaway dunk.