Kawhi Leonard.

Kawhi Leonard is ready to create his own legacy after taking the torch from Tim Duncan

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Media day had an unusual feel to it for the San Antonio Spurs as they officially began life without Tim Duncan. It was the first time since 1996 that Duncan wasn't part of the annual festivities.

Despite the occasion being about the team looking ahead to the new season and their hopes, the main talking point was the retirement of the team's most decorated player. 

The two players who will feel the loss of his presence the most will be longtime teammates Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

When asked what it was like without the Big Fundamental around, Ginobili said: "Quite strange. Open gym was different. He was usually the first to arrive, the last to leave, going to the track. It is going to be a completely different season without seeing him in his spot, with his comments, his moods and his game, of course. It is going to be different.”

Parker added: "We are definitely going to miss him. You can't replace a guy like that. He's been the face of the franchise the past two decades. Yeah, it's going to be weird, going to be weird without him."

It will not only be weird for the entire Spurs organisation, it'll take some getting used to for the entire league too.  

However, father time catches up with everybody and this moment was always going to come. Thankfully for San Antonio, they have developed a player who is ready to take the torch passed on by Timmy; step forward Kawhi Leonard.  

San Antonio Spurs v Charlotte Hornets

His time

Some would say the torch was passed to Leonard long before Duncan announced his retirement, as the small forward established himself as the Spurs' best player.  

But the difference is he will now have to assume more responsibility both on and off the court. The team's success will be down to him and luckily for the Texas-based franchise, he has the tools to assume control. 

At the age of just 25, Kawhi is an All-Star, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, an NBA champion and an NBA Finals MVP. Not many can boast those achievements after just five years in the league. 

The league's top defender enjoyed a career year as he averaged 21.2 points, 2.6 assists, and 6.8 rebounds per game, which saw him come second in the MVP voting.

San Antonio Spurs v Charlotte Hornets

Expect those numbers to increase again next season and nobody will be surprised if he goes one better and prises the MVP trophy away from Steph Curry. 

Whilst Curry will inevitably have to defer to new teammate Kevin Durant on occasions, Leonard will be the number one option for Gregg Popovich's offence and can reach new heights.

If anybody can make the San Antonio faithful forget about the absence of Duncan, it's Leonard.

The legacy of Duncan will forever be remembered in Texas, but it's time for Kawhi to create his own legacy and take the reigns in San Antonio. 

San Antonio Spurs
Southwest Division
Western Conference
Tim Duncan
Kawhi Leonard
Tony Parker

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