NBA: San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard makes first visit to China for basketball clinics

Kawhi Leonard (right) of the San Antonio Spurs shooting under pressure from Brandon Ingram of the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA basketball matchup in Los Angeles, California, on Nov 18, 2016.
Kawhi Leonard (right) of the San Antonio Spurs shooting under pressure from Brandon Ingram of the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA basketball matchup in Los Angeles, California, on Nov 18, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

New York (AFP) - San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals' Most Valuable Player in the Spurs' 2014 title run, will visit China starting on Friday (Aug 18) to help coach at youth clinics.

The two-time NBA All-Star will see Beijing and Shanghai in his first visit to China, a week-long trip to help boost basketball in the country that includes a stop at the NBA Academy Zhejiang.

"I'm thrilled to travel to China to help grow the game of basketball," Leonard said. "I'm also excited to see the fans' passion and excitement for basketball and to experience the Chinese culture."

Leonard will host a clinic for select migrant school students, and meet players and fans at the NBA's five-on-five tournament for elite players in China.

In addition, Leonard will work with the NBA's player development department and shadow NBA China chief executive David Shoemaker, attend business meetings and speak with the staff.

The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the year will become the first NBA player to visit an NBA Academy in China when he appears at the facility in Zhuji, guiding players through basketball drills.

Leonard concludes his journey with a stop at the NBA Playzone in Shanghai, an NBA-themed family entertainment destination.

The American averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals a game for the Spurs last season, when they went 61-21 in the regular season, only to fall to eventual champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals of the NBA play-offs.