Kawhi Leonard‘s nickname works, but it’s a tough sell really. “The Klaw” has the personal touch of beginning with a K, of course, and it signifies both Leonard’s enormous hands and the uncomfortable way offensive players feel when they’re in Leonard’s ferocious grip. (Nike, in its infinite creativity, took the Claw and made it The Klaw.) But still this quiet man of great basketball fortitude comes equipped already with a first name that renders a nickname unnecessary. He’s Kawhi. We don’t even need the Leonard. The Spurs forward is a true cultural one-namer like Magic, Bird, Prince, Madonna, Pharrell, Shakira, Rihanna and Kobe. (Sure, there was Black Mamba for Kobe, but he had to sell that sucker hard!)
Just as the “Big Fundamental” was always a half-joke of a nickname for Duncan, bestowed by comedian and Duncan rival Shaq, the Klaw is overkill. As heir to Duncan’s unofficial “the man” title in San Antonio, Kawhi needs no further introduction or explanation. Leonard’s father has said that his first name holds no special significance, and its origins are certain — but it’s very tempting for Spurs fans to go with the first entry at nameslist.org — there it says Kawhi means “Pure One.” And while it’s debatable whether The Answer, The Glove, Doctor J, The Big Dipper, The Truth, The Mailman, The King, The Human Highlight Film, The Admiral, or The Iceman really needed their nicknames, Kawhi Leonard’s “The Klaw” is surely superfluous. It may be even more so after this season, when there’s a good chance Leonard will just go by MVP.
— Jordan (@Jumpman23) April 14, 2016