Colin Cowherd reveals how Kawhi Leonard is the polar opposite of LeBron James

Video Details

Reflecting on San Antonio's head coach Gregg Popovich saying that he would be 'surprised' if Kawhi Leonard returned to play for the Spurs this season, Colin Cowherd outlines why Kawhi's quiet demeanor and overall trajectory have molded a player that is more of the anti-LeBron James than the next iteration of The King as fans and pundits alike thought when Kawhi first entered the league.

- When I was watching it last night and I was watching Popovich's mannerisms, he is frustrated as hell that Kawhi Leonard is out now for the year. And I always thought a big problem in this relationship is Popovich is very verbal and very upfront. Kawhi Leonard is nonverbal, non-communicative, and I think this is a big part of the relationship. It is not working.

Kawhi is hurt. It's a real injury. He doesn't trust San Antonio's system and their doctors. So he's gone to New York. He's gone to Los Angeles, and Popovich is really frustrated. But this is the funny thing to me about Kawhi Leonard. And let me just say this, buzzing in my ear, that when Kawhi came out, by about year three out of college, he was called the next LeBron. And my takeaway has always been, actually he's the anti-LeBron.

LeBron is a Magic Johnson-level communicator. Kawhi Leonard never talks. LeBron James, like Magic Johnson, is a tremendous elevator of those around him because he's a great passer. Kawhi virtually doesn't pass. LeBron's never hurt. Kawhi's hurt regularly. LeBron, if he leaves any team, they go in to the tank. Spurs are a third seed without him. San Antonio is fine without him. LeBron has leadership qualities. A talker, a barker, he gets in your face, he goes to the owner, he goes to the GM, he communicates. Kawhi has got none of those abilities, or tendencies.

I've always thought Kawhi is the anti-LeBron, but the NBA media, which sometimes acts like an impatient fanboy, is always seeking the next great player. And I've seen this with Anthony Davis. Skip Bayless always says this about Anthony Davis, it's cotton candy. His stats don't equal wins. He doesn't propel teammates. Totally agree, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, John Wall, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis, Dwight Howard. They're going to be the next, no they're not.

Here's the easiest way to explain the NBA. The first year I started regularly watching the NBA was 1973. Now I'm not going to count Wilt, because Wilt was wearing the headband, he was a Laker, he was an old, old man. In the 46 years since 1973, let me count it, '83, '93, 2003. In the 46 years or thereabouts that I've been watching the NBA, there's only been 11 guys that have changed the league. And if you're going to call Kawhi the next LeBron, that would mean he is a league changer. And he's not.

Here's the 11 guys and they won't necessarily be in order, I'll try to be close. Dr. J, Kareem, Magic, Bird, MJ, Shaq, Duncan, LeBron, Akeem, and Steph. And Kevin Durant by going to the Warriors and creating, in my opinion, perhaps the best team ever is the last guy I'd put on that. 11 guys.

Kareem and the skyhook changed the league. I mean, he made the Lakers the franchise. Dr. J in Philadelphia went ABA to NBA. He became a superstar in the league and carried the Sixers for several years. Made them, without Dr. J they're not nearly as relevant a franchise. Magic, Bird obviously, MJ obviously. Now by the way, I don't put Kobe in there. I never felt Kobe changed the league. He was MJ lite He was remarkable, I don't think Dirk Nowitzki changed the league even though he's the best Euro ever. I don't think he changed the league. He's Larry Bird lite.

Westbrook, Iverson, great, not league changers. Karl Malone, great, Stockton, great, Isaiah Thomas, great, not league changers. So if you're going to tell me Kawhi Leonard is the next LeBron, and I've never bought into it, then he would have to be an all-time top 11,12 player. He doesn't communicate, he doesn't pass, he's nonverbal, he doesn't have leadership qualities. And now he's going to miss the season so he's not even regularly healthy.

I've never understood it. I don't get it. I just think the NBA beat writers want to give us the next great superstar. Maybe because they just love the game. Kawhi's not it. He is a great player, that's where it ends. He is not a league changer. Never going to be, never has been, never will be.