SAN ANTONIO – A long question in the minds of Spurs fans was answered on a Yahoo! Sports interview with Kawhi Leonard's uncle, Dennis Robertson.
Robertson told Yahoo! Sports that the three-time NBA All-Star requested to be exchanged for the San Antonio Spurs due to a degradation in trust between Leonard's camp and the franchise.
"They did not think Kawhi could not play, and that caused a lack of confidence in us and then we did not believe in them," Robertson told Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports "Every time a player says he is not able to play, you should believe him, why would Kawhi stop playing suddenly? He is a competitor."
Uncle Dennis speaks: the star of the Raptors' uncle, Kawhi Leonard, to Yahoo Sports about why they requested exchanges from the Spurs, the initial reluctance to go to Toronto, to be claimed, the affection for the city and the free agency process . https://t.co/gJrsSW4HRF
– Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 26, 2019
Leonard appeared in nine games in his last season with the Spurs while recovering from the quadriceps tendinopathy in his right leg.
Leonard was approved by the Spurs' doctor and outside physicians, reported Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN in February 2018, but the two-time defensive player of the year chose not to play. Wojnarowski also reported that the team had a meeting only with "heated" and "emotional" players with Leonard that focused on some of the frustrations that the players had been feeling with Leonard's state.
Leonard was also criticized for not sitting behind the bench during the 2017-18 playoffs to offer support to the team.
"Sometimes the doctors on these teams tell you what you can and can not do, and Kawhi was too hurt to leave," Robertson told Yahoo! Sports. "This was a serious problem, they did not believe him, and after that, the relationship could not be recovered and we decided we had to move on."
In July 2018, the Spurs announced that Leonard and his beloved Spur Danny Green had been traded to the Toronto Raptors by DeMar DeRozan, center Jakob Poeltl and a first-round protected pick in 2019.
On Saturday, Green and Leonard became part of the history of the Raptors franchise, winning the Eastern Conference finals and making the NBA Finals for the first time.
Robertson told Yahoo! Sports that Leonard's success with the Raptors has been described by many as a claim, but he is not yet ready to agree.
"It feels good with what we went through last year," Robertson told Yahoo! Sports. "We have to be happy, he said it best with all the work he put into his job: he's ready for this moment, what he achieved was incredible, that's what the stars do.
"The way he handled everything on and off the court is well-deserved, it was nice to see him fight against all adversity, and he has won every minute of this."
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