Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard admitted that blowing a 3-1 playoff lead against the Denver Nuggets left a bad taste in his mouth and now he is motivated to get back and help his team win it all this season. The Clippers, who entered last season as a top favorite to win the title, failed to do after an epic collapse against the Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals.
"Physically, I feel good," Leonard said, per ESPN. "I am motivated. I want to start, I want to get back after it. It does leave a bad taste in your mouth blowing a 3-1 lead. But I love it. These are things that build the player.
It's the things that I like, the challenge. The road of going to a championship is hard. I love the process. "We'll see how strong we are and if we can build from things like this. That is what makes players."
Like Leonard, Paul George also feels good
George, who arrived with Leonard in the summer of 2019, was also extremely disappointed with the team's playoff collapse. "Last year was an unacceptable year for me, and I know that," George said.
"[This season] I feel really good, in a great place." George, 30, claimed he would like to finish his career in Los Angeles. "I'm committed, I'm here," George said. "I want to be here. I want to retire a Clipper.
I'll say that, every year." George was one of the biggest disappointments in the series against the Nuggets and he took the responsibility for failing to deliver when it mattered most. "We all take responsibility into that," George said.
"Being one of the top players on the team ... I wasn't playing well enough. The fact that I gave up a 3-1 series [lead] being on that floor sits with me and haunts me." Doc Rivers, who is now the head coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, was fired by the Clippers after their collapse against the Nuggets.
"Doc is a hell of a motivator, a hell of a coach," George added. "Doesn't mean I agree with everything that we did, but that does not belittle the fact that I respect him. ... I did want to clear it up, because the notion out there is that I don't respect Doc and putting the blame on Doc, which is not the case. I am to blame in that situation just as much as anyone."