Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard made his return to the floor for the Clips earlier this week, his first official action in over 15 months as Leonard recovered from a torn right ACL injury that kept him on the sidelines.
While NBA fans celebrated Leonard’s return, it also sparked immediate excitement for a potential title run.
It was great,” Leonard said following the game, according to ClutchPoints. “Just being able to put all that hard work that I did throughout the, whatever, 14, 16 months, just able to put it to test and playing against NBA talent, it was good. Just being out there with the guys and talking, I missed it. It was a great experience for me.”
Leonard also believes that getting back in the swing of the NBA game speed and pace will come with time. “That’s going to come. I’m going to be rusty. Legs definitely felt heavy, a lot of lactic acid in them. But as that time goes on, the rhythm will get back, the footwork, the spacing, the timing. Just knowing play calls, getting used to the crowd, getting used to T-Lue calling plays on the fly, my teammates yelling, the breathing, all that is going to come. I already know that, I know it’s a process and that is what I am looking forward to.”
“We’re striving to be great,” Leonard said. “We want to be one of the last teams standing and just being able to start that process has been amazing. You can’t skip steps. It’s a journey. Like I told them, we are entering a tunnel and it is going to be dark for a while, but at the end, it’s going to be light and joy. That is just my whole mindset of it. Trying to go out there and at practice or if it is a preseason game, put all our effort into it so we can get better each and every day.”
The Clippers will need to be calculated when moving forward with Leonard this season.
“We’ve got to be smart about the situation, about the process,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said. “We know he feels great, which is great news and great to hear. But we’ve got to listen to Kawhi’s body, be able to listen to the medical staff and make sure we’re doing the right thing for Kawhi.”