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Former Mountain West star Kawhi Leanord discusses impacts of altitude on the San Antonio Spurs

English: Kawhi Leonard playing for San Diego S...
English: Kawhi Leonard playing for San Diego State Aztecs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kawhi Leonard is a familiar name across the Mountain West Conference.

Just two short years ago, Leonard was sporting the San Diego State Aztecs red and white jersey, aiding his squad’s efforts in taking the conference by storm.
Leonard, now the starting forward for the reigning NBA Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs, has carried his intensity into the league.
Leonard, a solid  6’7″ player, is averaging 14.5ppg and 9rpg in three games this season.

In matches against Colorado State and Air Force throughout his collegiate career, Leonard consistently demonstrated his ability to thrive as a player, even in environments with challenges like that of the altitude in Colorado.

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I had the exclusive chance prior to the Nuggets vs Spurs matchup Tuesday to talk to Leonard prior to his pregame shoot around.
“It definitely effects your breathing,” said Leonard, talking about the impact if the thin Colorado air on athletes.
Leonard was consistently a standout athlete on his SDSU squad, fighting alongside current Memphis Grizzlies guard Jamal Franklin.
“When I played at places like CSU, I had to play extra hard,” Leonard said. “You have to do whatever it takes to win.”
When I asked him about his memories of playing college basketball in Colorado, Leonard recalled his standout games against CSU.
“I still had good numbers here, the altitude just made getting them harder,” Leonard said.
The 2-1 Spurs play the Nuggets Tuesday night. The 0-2 Nuggets are looking to make a quick turnaround, and possibly even capitalize on their altitude advantage.
At media day last month, new Nugget Nate Robinson said that the altitude was something he planned to use in his favor.
“Coming through this city on my previous teams, you could always feel the thin air,” Robinson said. “Hopefully it will work to my advantage now that this is my home.”
Leonard acknowledged that the lack of oxygen, in comparison to other NBA cities, is noticeable. However, Leonard believes his past performances between college and the NBA will prove he can still play effectively in Denver.
“After a few minutes of play, the altitude effect really starts to go away and I will continue to play hard as normal,” Leonard said.
For more exclusive interviews from NBA players and coaches, follow Dillon on Twitter: @DillonMThomas
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