Celtics

Celtics

LAS VEGAS -- The earth moved in a way few anticipated at the Thomas & Mack Arena on Friday night. 

And it had nothing to do with Zion Williamson’s much-anticipated summer league debut with the New Orleans Pelicans against his former Duke teammate, New York Knicks guard R.J. Barrett. 

It wasn’t the aftershocks of a 7.1 earthquake in Southern California that was felt all the way to Las Vegas, either. 

The NBA landscape took a dramatic and unexpected turn late Friday night/Saturday morning when Kawhi Leonard hitched his lot to the Los Angeles Clippers and he’ll be joined by Paul George, who was acquired by the Clippers via trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

The particulars as to what the Thunder received for George, a top-five MVP candidate this past season, are irrelevant. 

More than anything else, Leonard's decision - and his ability to get the Clippers to go out and land Paul George - is an impressive power move by the reigning NBA Finals MVP.

And it certainly is a jab at LeBron James, who was hopeful that Leonard would pick the Lakers over the Clippers and Toronto Raptors, who Leonard led to the franchise's first NBA title last month.

For the second time in the past three years, LeBron James was LeBron James’d by another player. 

Kyrie Irving’s decision to demand a trade out of Cleveland unexpectedly a couple of years ago was very much a LeBron James-like move. 

 

And Leonard indicating to the Clippers that he would reportedly come only if they traded for Paul George - which they did successfully -  was very much the kind of power move we’ve seen James execute in the past. 

Just when it seemed the Lakers were one Kawhi commitment away from being the best team in the NBA, now, they’re not even the best team in their building. 

And this is why the NBA is the best league in America. 

Because on a night when a transcendent player of Zion Williamson’s caliber plays his first game and has quite a few highlight-worthy plays, it becomes such a minor footnote because Leonard’s decision provided the kind of NBA fireworks we’ve come to expect. 

The aftershocks postponed the New Orleans vs New York game that eventually was won by the Pelicans, the outcome really didn't matter in the grand scheme of things. 

Because on this night, Kawhi's long-awaited decision was what really rocked the NBA landscape, delivering aftershocks that will be felt for quite some time. 

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