The Squat

This is Kawhi.

Jim Rome
May 13, 2019 - 12:55 pm
Kawhi Leonard

USA Today


How was your weekend? Because the NBA’s weekend was pretty awesome. Check that – absolutely incredible. Some entertainment over the weekend might have let you down, but not the association. It not only lived up to the hype, it smashed it into a thousand pieces.

Going into Friday night, there was the potential for three Game 7s yesterday. And then that ended when the Warriors turned in one of the most brass performances you will ever see and the Rockets did what the Rockets always do. 

It’s probably a good thing there weren’t three Game 7s yesterday, Two was plenty. Two was almost too much. That weekend was so good, so insane it carried over into Monday with this tweet from Woj:

Michigan’s John Beilein has agreed to a five-year deal to become coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, league sources tell ESPN.

The hell is that? John Beilein leaving Michigan? Where he was killing it. Where he turned Michigan into a basketball school even as Jim Harbaugh is the football coach.  C’mon. Do we really look that stupid?? I saw that and immediately thought it was a prank. I had to check the twitter handle to make sure it wasn’t warjespn or Waj or Woj with a zero instead of an o. Nope, that was a real Woj bomb and that was a real thing.  John Beilein is leaving Michigan for the NBA. 

Normally, news like that not only leads the show, it dominates the show. An icon of college coaching going to the NBA? Big swing by the Cavs, to take a shot like that and not just go for the safe hire. I’m into it, although it is a bit shocking. 

And normally, I’d still be tripping on it, but I still can’t get beyond what down in Toronto yesterday:

That is absolutely unreal. Kawhi wins it with a buzzer beater. In Game 7. With one of the most ridiculous shots you’ll ever see. Going to his right, getting enough space to get over Joel Embiid, and just enough on the ball to get it onto the rim and then stay up there forever.

Run that back again and listen for the silence as the ball is on the rim. Until it finally drops.

Honestly, if that shot was in a movie, you’d call bull crap. Even in Hollywood, where we all afford incredible amounts of creative license; that shot wouldn’t even fly there.   There’s no way a Game 7 comes down to a shot that bounces on the rim that many times and then falls. It’s just too much. The writers overcooked that.

But that was real. And it was insane. I could spend the entire show just playing that clip and then reaction shots from around the world. Like the one from the Raptor fans outside the arena. That is solid gold.

The first Game 7 walk off in NBA history. I’m not sure what’s more unreal – that nobody’d ever had a Game 7 walk off in NBA history or that shot was the one that did it. The one that bounced forever on the rim.

And it came just moments after Jimmy Butler clutches it up and ties it. In any other world, that’s the shot we’re talking about right now. Hit that, tie it up, and go on to win in overtime. Then this Philly team is a bunch of legends. But The Klaw ripped that from them. Run that back one more time.

Dame gave us The Wave in the first round. Kawhi gave us The Squat in the second round.

That photo of him squatting down, watching the shot, with Joel watching, and the whole world watching, is a damn Renaissance painting.

And what’s insane about that shot isn’t the fact that it bounced about a billion times on the rim. Or that it somehow fell through. It’s that Kawhi had been leaving his shots short all game. And let’s be real, when he let that one go, it sure as hell didn’t look like it was going in. And that’s not just me. A number of his teammates said the same thing.  Including Fred Van Vleet: who was on the bench, said: ‘From that angle where we were at, it didn’t look like it was going in at all at first. It looked like it was a little to the left. Once it sat on the rim for a second, we started to wait for it to just drop. Once it hit the rim once and twice it was like, “This is Kawhi. This is gonna fall.” And it did.

Perfectly said. This is Kawhi.

And this is something for all of you who doubted Kawhi. If you thought he was just a quiet guy with a weird laugh, …or a weird guy with a weird laugh…if that’s what you thought, that’s on you. You forgot about Kawhi. You forgot that he’s a Finals MVP. 2-time first-team All-NBA. 2-time defensive player of the year. He was banged up, he got healthy, and now he’s back to killing people.

And killing narratives. You know the narrative about the Raptors being soft. Or vanishing in the playoffs. Kawhi buried that in this series.

41 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists in a Game 7. The list of active NBA players who’ve scored 40 or more in a Game 7:

Kawhi Leonard
LeBron James

That’s all. Nobody else.

Here’s another one: Kawhi scored 243 points in that series against Philly. The most in a single series since…Michael Jordan in 1993.

LeBron James and Michael Jordan. That’s what you just witnessed.

And just for the record, the Raptors didn’t need yesterday to win the trade. They traded DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poetl, and a protected first round pick for Kawhi. That gave them flexibility going forward. And a chance to re-sign a perennial MVP candidate. And they got Danny Green. And 5 mill. That’s how good Masai Ujiri is.  

Was there risk? Sure. Was it a gamble? Hell no. Masai knew he had to change it up. He had to break up something that was good in order to be great. And yesterday was great.

And now we have Kawhi v. Giannis. The Klaw v. The Freak. And what was already great could get even better.

And the Sixers, who were built to win right now, are going to have a long, difficult summer with a number of difficult decisions to make.