Report: Struggling Finals MVP worried eye condition could last months

In last season's NBA Finals, Kawhi Leonard seemed to hit every shot — and stop every player — in sight. This season, however, he admits his ailing vision continues to plague his game.

Bob Donnan/Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s one of those old sports adages that seem to be uttered more often because they exist than because they are true:

The only ones who can beat us are ourselves.

Only for the reigning NBA Finals MVP, when it comes to his bothersome fight eye, those words couldn’t be truer.

Kawhi Leonard missed the Spurs’ season opener after coming down with conjunctivitis (pink eye) in the preseason. In the four games since his return, Leonard is averaging 9.5 points (three points fewer than last season) on a dreadful and career-worst 30.8-percent shooting from the floor.

Despite Leonard’s return to action, those two facts are most certainly related.

"My right eye, the vision’s not all the way back yet," Leonard told the San Antonio Express-News. "Hopefully I can heal up soon. I’ve just got to keep competing so I can get used to it and get my rhythm going."

Leonard made those remarks after the Spurs’ latest game, a 100-99 loss at home Saturday to New Orleans during which Leonard missed two shots that could have given the Spurs the lead in the closing seconds, including the would-be winner at the buzzer.


But, according to the report, Leonard has been told this condition could linger for some time, perhaps well into the season.

"It just has to run its course," Leonard told the Express-News. "[Team eye specialist Dr. Ed Rashid] said there were some military guys who had it for weeks and some for months."

Months is indeed a scary proposition, but the man whom the Heat could not stop in last June’s Finals sounds determined to not let pink eye get in his way this time:

"I have to [play through the conjunctivitis. That’s what I’m doing now. I can’t wait and sit on the sidelines anymore just wasting games. It might not ever clear up until summer, so I’m playing now."