Kawhi Leonard takes postgame treatment and recovery seriously. He has been the face of “load management” in the NBA, playing only 60 regular season games last year but leading the Toronto Raptors through the playoffs to their first NBA title.
It’s a focus of the first-year Los Angeles Clippers star for dual reasons: his personal life and his professional one.
Leonard focuses on treatment for son
Leonard, 28, described his postgame treatment and why he sticks so closely to it after the Clippers’ 103-97 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. It was with the Spurs that he played only nine games during the 2017-18 season due to lingering issues with his right quad and asked to be traded.
The nine-year veteran wants a good life when he’s done playing, and he wants it for his children. From Ben Golliver at the Washington Post:
Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard on why he is so diligent w/ his postgame treatment: “I just want to be able to walk strong when I’m done playing this game. My son motivates me to keep playing. Once he gets to the age to play basketball, I want to be able to play with him still.” pic.twitter.com/NWJ4j6oekB— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) November 1, 2019
Leonard said he wants to be able to play basketball with his son when the time comes. He and his partner had a daughter in 2016 and a son earlier this year.
Leonard works on postgame care
Leonard has an extensive postgame routine that goes beyond the NBA edict that players be available for media interviews within 45 minutes of the game’s end. He lifts weights, rehabs any sore or tight body part and then receives a massage, according to USA Today Sports. Throughout the week he focuses on “a balance” in his meals that have him eating healthy.
The two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP spent 86 minutes on treatment after Thursday night’s game, per USA Today Sports.
The Clippers (4-2) are also limiting Leonard as the Raptors did, though the star said he no longer has pain in his quad. Head coach Doc Rivers benched Leonard in blowout victories and sat him Wednesday in the first of a back-to-back. His season-high is 34 minutes against the Spurs in which he scored 38 points.
Clippers, Rivers work to keep Leonard fresh
Rivers told reporters he doesn’t want to “get involved. I don’t want any part of it.” He defers to the medical staff on how they will handle Leonard’s treatment, minutes and schedule as the season goes on. He said there is a plan in advance that gets shifted depending on how Leonard is doing.
Rivers told reporters Wednesday ahead of the back-to-back games, via the Orange County Register:
"Our goal is to have him playing and being fresh all year, and we're doing that so far. I keep saying this: He's not the only guy we're having those conversations with, and every team is doing it. We're just trying to do it, I don't know, I'm trying to say more efficiently than others. But we're learning as we go."
In Rivers’ day, there were labels for guys who sat out. The coach told reporters he’s on board with the new-age system.
“I think it’s a better time, personally,” he said, via USA Today Sports. “I’m one of those old-school guys that think this new way is actually the right way of doing things.”
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