The San Antonio Spurs are breathing down the neck of the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. While Stephen Curry and his team are all flashy three-point shots and small-ball lineups, the LaMarcus Aldridge squad quietly take down every team along the way. Despite the aging big three, which is composed of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the San Antonio Spurs consistently deliver good performances.
However, it looks like Gregg Popovich does not feel too confident with the veterans in the roster. In the recent game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs head coach approached the great Kobe Bryant. While many assumed that he simply wanted to greet the Black Mamba, both parties confirmed that they discussed something more important - the future of Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard, who is a first-time NBA All-Star player, is one of the big three stars groomed to take over after Duncan, Parker and Ginobili exit the basketball team. Apart from Leonard, the San Antonio Spurs expect Aldridge and Danny Green to lead the group eventually.
"After the game we talked about Kawhi a little bit," said Bryant via ESPN of the chat he had with Popovich after the game. The Black Mamba added, "[Popovich] wanted me to stay in his ear a little bit and talk to him a little bit. I definitely, definitely, definitely will. I think he has a tremendous amount of potential and he's only going to get better. So if I can help him out in that regard, I most certainly will."
For his part, the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs explained his move of seeking Bryant's wisdom to guide Leonard. He said, "There are a lot of guys that young guys learn from. Kawhi has learned a lot from the guys that are vets on his own team. And Kobe is just another example of somebody that has been disciplined by time and been a great pro in understanding the responsibility to bring it night after night after night. Kawhi sees that and understands that. He's trying to live that life."
Meanwhile, the debate between who is the better athlete between Duncan and Bryant rages on. In fact, fellow NBA icons have joined the discussion to determine who had a better run in the basketball community.
"Jeez, I would say that Tim Duncan has had a better career just because they've been able to win more consistently, and they didn't have to rely on Tim all the time," said Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, according to ESPN. The 68-year-old former NBA star played for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.
As for Magic Johnson, who played 13 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Black Mamba is still better than Duncan. While he noted that he has always been partial to players from his former NBA team, Johnson shared that Bryant changed the landscape of basketball.
He said, "He was a guy who made these young players work out harder, do more, because he was working out so hard. LeBron, all those guys, followed Kobe Bryant. And he's been a guy who's said, 'Hey guys, this is how you do it,' and guys have followed."