'Leatherface' Kawhi Leonard jokes Serge Ibaka is on the trading block

By Tom Webber 31 December 2020 48
'Leatherface' Kawhi Leonard jokes Serge Ibaka is on the trading block

Kawhi Leonard has been nicknamed 'Leatherface' due to the mask he must wear after an injury inflicted by Los Angeles Clippers team-mate Serge Ibaka, who he joked is now on the trading block.

A collision with Ibaka during the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets last week resulted in Leonard requiring eight stitches for a mouth laceration.

The four-time All-Star sat out two games, including the Clippers' heaviest defeat in their history when they went down by 51 points to the Dallas Mavericks, before returning in Wednesday's 128-105 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Wearing an unusual face mask did not seem to hamper Leonard too much as he had a game-high 28 points with seven assists, three steals and one block at Staples Center.

The protective gear has resulted in his team-mates referring to him by the name of the villain from 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' film series, but Leonard – a self-proclaimed "fun guy" known for his reserved personality – warned Ibaka not to take part in the teasing too much after injuring the franchise star.

"They started calling me Leatherface and stuff," said Leonard, continuing with a deadpan delivery.

"But Serge can't talk too much, we've got him on the trading block right now. So whoever wants him, let us know. We're trying to trade Serge."

Leonard said it was difficult to breathe in the mask and explained that the location of his injury was the reason for the odd aesthetics of the mask.

"Just where the injury is, it's a little difficult. Some guys have cheek fractures or they break their nose, and mine is really like trying to protect the stitches from getting hit and ripped, so it's a different scenario. You're trying to protect the lips and my jaw and my cheek," said Leonard.

"It's hard to do and that's what I'm saying it's kind of hard to breathe, because you can't really expose my mouth so much, you have to bring it [the mask] out and put a hole in.

"But there's a whole process to it. We're still trying to work on something better but it worked out pretty well tonight. I might have to get a mouthpiece or something."

Six of Leonard's seven assists came through the first two periods, tying his career high for assists in either half of a game.

The Clippers had 30 assists in total against the Trail Blazers, making it the first time since December 2014 that they have hit that mark in back-to-back games.

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Tom Webber