NBA’s ‘Fun Guy’ Kawhi Leonard named AP’s male athlete of 2019
He was the Fun Guy. The board man who got paid. He overcame injury to reclaim his rightful place as one of the very best basketball players on the planet. He conquered the NBA world for a second time, bringing a championship to Canada. And then he joined the Los Angeles Clippers, ready to start anew.
“What it do, baby?”
For Kawhi Leonard in 2019, there finally is an answer to his infamous question: He did everything, without talking much.
Leonard is The Associated Press’ male athlete of the year for 2019, comfortably winning a vote by AP member sports editors and AP beat writers. He becomes the fifth NBA player to win the award, joining Larry Bird (1986), three-time recipient Michael Jordan (1991 through 1993), three-time recipient LeBron James (2013, 2016, 2018) and Stephen Curry (2015). The award has been made annually since 1931, and Simone Biles was announced Thursday as the women’s recipient for 2019.
Leonard was the NBA Finals MVP for the second time, leading Toronto to its first championship — five years after he first smudged his fingerprints on both trophies with the San Antonio Spurs. He wound up leaving the Raptors in the summer for the Clippers, returning to his native Southern California and turning the historically woeful franchise into one of the top teams in the league.
“The ride was fun,” Leonard said earlier this month on his return trip to Toronto, summing up his year with the Raptors. “I had a great time.”
Photos: Kawhi Leonard, AP’s 2019 male athlete of the year