With the launch of ‘Flight Guy’ this week, we speak with Jordan brand family member Kawhi Leonard on-set of the shoot about how he prepares mentally to take flight. Behind-the-scenes imagery reinterpreted by artist Molly Feole.

How old were you when you started playing?

I started playing basketball when I was probably seven or eight years old. I played for a local league around the city. I also played football growing up. In about my junior year of high school I had a few things happening in my life and I started focusing on basketball.

When you started to focus on basketball, were you always interested in being a good defender?

I felt like I was a good defender. I always wanted to guard the best player. I think when you play football, you play both ends of the field. I played both ways so just translated it to a basketball court.

Did you always have success guarding the best player?

No, not all the time. You play against other guys that are better than you are. It’s about the competitive nature in you.

Was playing against those older guys helpful for making you a better defender?

Just a better basketball player overall. You begin to learn passing the ball, defending them because their skill level was at a higher level than mine at that time.

What’s your mindset when you step on the court knowing that you are going to have to match up against some of the league’s best players?

Just trying to do my job on the team to win the game. Playin’ hard. Just knowin’ what they do well. Being smart. Don’t foul.

What’s your approach going into big games? Is it any different than the rest of the games?

I’ve pretty much tried to have that same mindset every game so when those big games do come, just carryover to what I’ve been trying to do already.

Taking it back to the 2014 Finals – what was going through your mind during that series? Obviously it was a big one.

Makin sure we end up winning cause we lost the year before and it caused a big pain on everybody on the team. So, just tryin’ to go out there and win it. Really focus and put my all on the floor.

Would you say that sometimes losses fuel you to want to be better and want to win more?

For sure. Once you lose, you always look at your mistakes. When you win you really don’t learn from it as much as you should. Just because you won the game.

 

What did it mean to you personally to be named MVP?

A lot. Shows that all my hard work has paid off. My focus was there and I had a great group of guys around me to help me get to that trophy.

What does your PE logo mean to you?

It means a lot. It’s amazing that you see that transition from high school to college to the NBA and then you look down and you’re on the floor and you see your logo on your shoe.

The AJ XXXI ‘Flight Guy’ launches 4/1 on jordan.com

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