By DJ Siddiqi, CBS Sports
Kawhi Leonard has other things to worry about outside of the 2019 NBA Finals.
As the Toronto Raptors look to bounce back from their Game 2 loss to the Golden State Warriors, Leonard has some off-court distractions to think about. Leonard is suing Nike for copyrighting a logo he allegedly designed. According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in southern California, Nike copyrighted the logo without his consent.
The logo that is the center of all controversy is the infamous “Klaw” logo.
Leonard had previously been with Nike as an endorser since playing for the San Antonio Spurs earlier in his career, but he recently signed a new endorsement deal with New Balance after extension talks with Nike broke down in the middle of the 2018-19 season.
RJ Marquez, who covers the Spurs locally, listed details of the allegations from Leonard’s side in the lawsuit.
1. In 2011, just after being drafted to the National Basketball Association (the “NBA”), Kawhi Leonard authored a unique logo that included elements that were meaningful and unique to him. Leonard traced his notably large hand, and, inside the hand, drew stylized versions of his initials “KL” and the number that he had worn for much of his career, “2.” The drawing Leonard authored was an extension and continuation of drawings he had been creating since early in his college career.
2. Several years later, as part of an endorsement deal with Nike, Leonard allowed Nike to use on certain merchandise the logo he created while Leonard continued to use the logo on non-Nike goods.
The Raptors are currently tied at one apiece in the NBA Finals with the series now shifting to Oracle Arena for Game 3. While Leonard is certainly used to playing through adversity on the game’s biggest stage, we’ll see how he handles the inevitable questions surrounding this lawsuit as Toronto prepares for Wednesday’s Finals game against the Warriors.