Kawhi Leonard was philosophical after starting his first game of the season as he kept insisting that returning from a torn ACL "can be a two-year process." After starting his first two games of the season off the bench, Leonard missed 12 consecutive games due to a knee issue.
On Thursday night, Leonard returned to the Clippers' lineup and helped his team beat the Detroit Pistons 96-91. Against the Pistons, Leonard played for 25 minutes as he had six points, five rebounds and four assists.
"Just rehabbing, getting ready. I'm not going to explain it because I'm not a doctor, and nobody in here is one. So just getting back, ready to get on the floor. Like I said before, at the start of the season, it's going to be a long journey.
ACL recovery isn't just one year. Everybody thinks that, but it's a two-year process, so I know that and I'm going to keep going and going through the process," Leonard said, per ESPN.
Leonard knew he would be a starter when he returned
The Clippers opted to have Leonard come off the bench at the start of the season.
But Clippers head coach Ty Lue made it clear he didn't want to keep with that routine. "After I played those first two games, it was dead already. T-Lue wanted me to start the games and get us going in a flow. So, before I sat out [12 straight games] I knew I was gonna be starting," Leonard said.
When Leonard was asked if he was still bothered by what kept him out for 12 games, he was again philosophical. "Like I said, it's a two-year process. Everybody thinks it's a one-year process, but we don't know.
We'll see what happens once we keep moving forward," Leonard answered. Meanwhile, Clippers guard Reggie Jackson revealed what his message to Leonard. "I just try to remind him that he's Kawhi Leonard. That he's special.
He's one of the best to ever play his game, and we got the utmost confidence in him no matter what the result was. We had utmost confidence in him no matter what his stat line said at the time. I don't care if he made his shots.
I don't care if he turned it over. He is who he is for a reason, and we're gonna ride with him in the fourth," Jackson said of Leonard.