Pointing out the similarities between Kawhi Leonard and Michael Jordan both physically and on the court is fine for you and me to do, but if you serenade Leonard on national tv while trying to sign him to your team is a no-no; that’s considered tampering.
Back in May, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was asked if Leonard was the best player in the NBA at the moment and River wholeheartedly said yes.
“He is the most like (Michael) Jordan that we’ve seen. Like, there’s a lot of great players. … LeBron is phenomenal, KD is phenomenal. Not that (Kawhi) is Jordan or anything like that, but he is the most like him. Big hands. Post game. Can finish. Great leaper. Great defender. In-between game. If you beat him to the spot, he bumps you off. And then you add his 3-point shooting.”
Again, on the surface no big deal, but at the time Leonard was getting set to become a free-agent and L.A. was his rumored landing spot.
Rivers could’ve been brief with his answer about Leonard being the best player in the league, or simply declined to answer, but instead compared him to the greatest to ever do it which in the eyes of the NBA was tampering. Essentially, he was trying to woo Leonard to the Clippers so the league fined the team $50,000 for tampering.
Now, fast forward seven months since the tampering violation and Rivers has doubled down with his comparison and has blamed the media for what occurred back in May.
You can hear a reporter saying, “but you said it on T.V though, so it’s not our fault,” in which Rivers responds, “No, it’s the way you reported it, is what was wrong, so it was your fault.”
It’s a pretty bold move for Rivers to blame the media for reporting exact words that came out of his mouth on a TV show, but that’s the route he took.
Rivers claims he was only talking about how Leonard and MJ have the same body types, but then there’s the actual clip that proves otherwise, yet he’s placing the blame on the media for it?
It’s a unique situation with coaches not really allowed, at least not publicly, to try and sway player to their teams by praising their game, but Rivers has to know the moment better there.
Then again, the Clippers were slapped with a measly $50,000 fine and now have one of the best players on the planet in Los Angeles so, in the long run, it all worked out just fine for Rivers and the Clips.