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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Former Spur Steve Smith Says Gregg Popovich Made Kawhi Leonard a Star

Posted By on Tue, Apr 9, 2019 at 11:58 AM

click to enlarge SPURS / INSTAGRAM
  • spurs / Instagram
Kawhi Leonard may have been traded to Toronto almost a year ago, but a former Spur is weighing in on the star player's relationship with the franchise.

Steve Smith, who played in San Antonio from 2001 to 2003, said Gregg Popovich made a star out of now-Raptor Kawhi Leonard.

"He's made stars out of players we never expected." Smith told Heavy in a recent interview. "I never thought Kawhi, Manu and Tony would become what they were."

Before his rise with the Spurs, Smith saw Leonard as a player who would be primarily skilled in defense but not necessarily as a "potent scorer."

"I saw a guy that defended well and played well off the basketball," he said. "Now I see a guy that's comfortable with it."

Smith said the relationship between Coach Pop and the Klaw allowed Leonard to "become the star player he is today." To Smith, Leonard's star power is largely in part to his being under Popovich's training during his seven seasons with the Spurs.

Today, Leonard is considered one of the biggest stars in the NBA.

Too bad he wasn't loyal.

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