Skip to content Skip to footer

The Klaw vs. The Swoosh: This is why Kawhi Leonard sued Nike

Kawhi Leonard is more than an athlete. He’s a household name and brand. There is no “becoming” or “on his way to being” — he’s reached that superstar status.

Leonard is currently averaging 31.2 points per game, second behind Kevin Durant (among active players), shooting 50-percent from the floor, 39-percent from three, and 89-percent from the free-throw line. Oh, and he’s led the Toronto Raptors to their first Finals appearance in franchise history.

When you talk about top players in the game, Kawhi Leonard, now, has to be mentioned. This playoff run alone has possibly the hottest ascending star in the league right now — which is why it’s absolutely absurd that he does not own the rights to his own logo: The Klaw.

ESPN reported that Leonard has been in dispute with Nike over the ownership of the “Klaw” logo over the past couple of months, which,  has developed into a lawsuit against Nike in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

“In 2011, just after being drafted to the National Basketball Association, Kawhi Leonard authored a unique logo that included elements that were meaningful and unique to him,” the lawsuit reads.

“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.

The lawsuit continues,

“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. Unbeknownst to Leonard and without his consent, Nike filed an application for copyright registration of his logo and falsely represented in the application that Nike had authored the logo.”

Kawhi addressed the news in Kawhi fashion while talking with reporters Tuesday ahead of Game 3: short and simple. “It happened over a long time ago. You guys are just finding out. Not a big worry of mine,” Leonard said.

Several things may come to mind when you think of Kawhi: Champion, Finals MVP, top-5 player, silent, killer; and all these things are true. But probably most of all, his most distinguishable trait would have to be his massive hands.

Just like Giannis taking advantage of his freakish length and Greek upbringing and Harden with his beard, Kawhi, too, is looking to brand himself, and what better than with his gigantic paws, especially as his name is all the buzz.

After all, this how athletes really make their money — using their basketball prowess to build a brand that transcends sports. Just look at LeBron and KD who’ve been building the blueprint for years.

Leonard is currently signed to New Balance, which has come out with some witty campaigns for Kawhi like “Fun Guy” and “King of North”, but his ultimate goal is to use the logo he designed for his without roadblock and limitations.

Nike has yet to make comment, however, according to the report, the last correspondence was in March when Nike told Kawhi they, “owns all intellectual property rights in the Leonard Logo and demanding that Leonard immediately cease and desist from what Nike claimed was the unauthorized use of the Leonard Logo.”

We’ll see just how far both are willing to go.