Just when it looked like the Los Angeles Clippers had a real shot at reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, bad fortune struck in the form of a sprained knee for Kawhi Leonard.
It’s a scenario the franchise and their fans know all too well, as it has occurred so often over the past decade.
Russell Westbrook, whom the team signed in February in the hopes that he would be the final piece, says he feels sympathy for Leonard.
Russell Westbrook on Kawhi Leonard’s injury:
“I just feel sorry for him. Probably was playing the best basketball in a while and probably the best in the world. Just sucks for him, mentally… If he’s not back, we gotta rally around each other.”pic.twitter.com/WfqMEH7iYJ
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) April 21, 2023
When the Clippers acquired Westbrook, Paul George, his old teammate on the Oklahoma City Thunder, reportedly vouched for him, but there were whispers that perhaps Leonard was against the signing.
However, there has been no public evidence of the sort.
Still, it is the latest of a litany of injuries Leonard has suffered, sometimes at some very inconvenient times.
He suffered an ankle injury that forced him to miss almost the entire 2017 Western Conference Finals back when he was a member of the San Antonio Spurs following a season in which they won 61 games and looked like a legitimate challenger to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors.
Then in 2021, Leonard sustained an ACL tear in the second round that knocked him out for the remainder of that postseason, as well as all of the 2021-22 campaign.
Los Angeles is already without Paul George, who is out for their entire first-round series versus the Phoenix Suns, and they trail the series 2-1, putting them in a very precarious position without their two stars.