The number 2 has been a bit of a hot potato in Los Angeles Clippers history. Of the 15 players to wear No. 2, most wore it for one season — possibly a commentary on the instability of the Clippers in the (shudders) Donald Sterling era.
Pooh Richardson wore it for a stretch of his five seasons with the Clips. Kenyon Martin wore it in his short stint in Los Angeles. Fan favorite Shai Gilgeous-Alexander wore it as well.
But the most accomplished player to wear No. 2 in the LA Clippers era is an easy one: Kawhi Leonard. While the superstar’s first season in a Clippers uniform is thus far abbreviated due to the coronavirus pandemic, he’s the first Clippers No. 2 to be an All-Star. Facts don’t lie!
Beyond that, his current scoring average of 26.9 points per game this season would be good for 6th all-time among all Clippers/Braves players in a single season — behind just Bob McAdoo and World B. Free. Of course, points are only one part of Leonard’s game, who entered the NBA out of San Diego State as a rebounding and defensive specialist, became a solid third or fourth option in his first few seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, then honed his offense while demonstrating a ferocious will to win at the highest level, something the Clippers were hoping would rub off on a franchise desperate for some real success.
In an era where NBA superstars are expected to be exuberant personalities, or most interesting for the beefs they engage in, Leonard is the rarest of superstars — he’s a total enigma to the public. We get the unique laugh, the “Board man gets paid” line that spawns a thousand copycat wannabe Kawhi urban legends, but Leonard isn’t a talker. He keeps his mouth shut, plays his game, and that’s what you get. For the Clippers, that’s more than enough.
We can’t project the future — the current coronavirus pandemic has proved that once and for all — but if we can see the real NBA again someday, and if Leonard can stay healthy, he can supply hope in abundance, and perhaps much more beyond that. And you can’t ask for much more than that from a player, wearing No. 2 or any other number.
More news for Thursday:
- Leonard best No. 2 in NBA history! Listen, if you’re not convinced by his 51 games for the Clippers, The Athletic ranks him as the best No. 2 jersey in league history. That sounds really good.
- The Clippers are using zoom: Not just for office jobs, sports teams are also turning to zoom to do video meetings while everyone is staying home. Shams Charania says the Clippers have already started using it for workouts and “to build camaraderie.” I wonder if that means they’re playing card games with it, and if so, which player is cheating first (I kid, I kid).
“The sobering reality … is that everyone is at the mercy of the coronavirus,” our NBA Insider @ShamsCharania says.— Stadium (@Stadium) April 1, 2020
Charania reports on Adam Silver’s call with NBA team presidents today, and a unique way the Lakers and Clippers are using Zoom for workouts. pic.twitter.com/hHn4wCd5zU
- Dooling on mental health: Mental health has been something the NBA has been a leader at managing, compared to other American sports leagues, but Zach Lowe’s podcast had a great talk that included former Clipper Keyon Dooling, currently serving as a player wellness counselor for the NBPA — definitely some good fodder here.
- Looking back at the Kandi Man draft: The Ringer ranks the Clippers drafting Michael Olowokandi at No. 1 in 1998 as the “worst move” of that draft. Sad, but probably true.
- Good dive on Clippers in the ‘80s: Pro Hoops History has another Clippers-era Terry Cummings post, this one looking at the promise of a Cummings/Tom Chambers core that gets blown up by Sterling’s impatience. Painful reading, but good context if you’re hazy on the details of how we got to this point.
Today’s question: What was your number when you played sports? I was No. 20, in tribute to Barry Sanders, believe it or not. Would love to hear your preferred number in the comments below.