Lakers Coach Heavily Praises Kawhi Leonard, Compares Him to LeBron James and Kobe Bryant

Orel Dizon
3 Min Read

Two-time NBA champion Kawhi Leonard is no doubt one of the best players in the league today.

In a recent podcast, Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy had nothing but praise for the small forward.

Before rejoining the Lakers coaching staff in the past offseason, Handy served as an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors for one season. Together with Leonard, they won the 2019 NBA title.

Handy recently appeared on the Battle for LA podcast where he discussed how it was to coach Leonard.

“That was one of the easiest transitions that I’ve ever made with a player,” admitted Phil Handy. “Kawhi is. … Man, that dude is just all about the love of the game. He just loves the game and he’s a quiet dude that just wants to play basketball. All the fluff, all the whistles, all the social media and all the other stuff, he doesn’t need it. He just wants to hoop.”

Handy went on to liken the hardworking Leonard to two Lakers legends.

“Kawhi’s a gym rat,” explained Handy. “He’s disciplined, like one of those guys in the same vein as Kobe [Bryant] and LeBron [James]. He’s very serious about his work, he’s a very smart basketball player, he takes care of his body, and he just wants to be great. That was a great time for me. Again, I didn’t know Kawhi at all, so building a relationship with him from scratch was to this day, we’re still very close.”

Handy has had the privilege of working with both Bryant and James, so he definitely knows what he is talking about.

Before becoming an assistant coach, Handy began his NBA career as a player development coach for the Lakers from 2011 to 2013. He was then hired as an assistant coach by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013.

This season, Handy could have had a reunion with Leonard. However, the All-Star spurned the Lakers and opted to sign with the intercity rival Los Angeles Clippers.

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