By Robert Stitt
Kawhi (pronounced like the Hawaiian island) Leonard plays for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. In the age of Stephen Curry, many people forget about players like Leonard, even if they do command $94 million contracts.
Per the March 2016 Sports Illustrated, “he was named Finals MVP in 2014, captured Defensive Player of the Year in ’15 and this season seized the unofficial title of best two-way player in the NBA.”
If you don’t follow the Spurs, you may not be familiar with Kawhi Leonard. He doesn’t care, and it’s not false humility. He simply doesn’t go for the glitz and glamour and doesn’t feel the need to hog the spotlight. He just wants to play ball. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Leonard explained, “I don’t like to bring attention to myself. I don’t like to make a scene….I could be on the court for two hours and it felt like 10 minutes. It made time go by.”
Don’t think that he plays ball because he can’t do anything else, though. Leonard loves math and spent two years at San Diego State University before he was selected as the15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft. And how have those math skills paid off? The Root notes that he “spends his summers in a two-bedroom apartment in San Diego…[and] drives a rehabbed ’97 Chevy Tahoe, nicknamed Gas Guzzler.” Why? He told SI, “It runs, and it’s paid off.”
While other stars are buying mansions, collecting luxury cars, and dropping “Benjamins” at the casino while bathing in Cristal, Leonard enjoys his modest lifestyle and prefers his unlimited supply of wings from his Wingstop sponsor…and he isn’t too proud to use his free coupons even if he is pulling in over $20 million a year.
Finance professor Dr Boyce Watkins says that Leonard represents a template her love to see more athletes follow.
“Black athletes are among the most powerful and intelligent men in the world,” says Dr Watkins, who is promoting black wealth building around the world in his Black Economic Empowerment Tour. “It was the racist media who made black men think that we are supposed to engage in ridiculous financial coronary.”
In a world where pro athletes go broke the moment they leave the league, it is refreshing to know there are still athletes of the highest calibre who love the game and have some financial sense.
In the video below, Dr Boyce Watkins goes on to explain that financial habits like Mr. Leonard’s don’t just miraculously appear. Instead, they are cultivated by parents who raise financially responsible children. Dr Watkins teaches a program for black children called “The Black Millionaires of Tomorrow,” where he teaches kids financial literacy at an early age.
According to Watkins, parents must plan well in advance to prepare their children to make smart financial decisions.