Plenty of people, myself included, eat yogurt for breakfast, but I've never seen someone eat frozen yogurt, as popular as it is these days, for breakfast. Or at least I hadn't, until Meyers Leonard strolled on to the team bus bound for morning practice with a backpack in one hand and a tub of froyo in the other.
I thought perhaps it was just a on occasion thing, like eating pancakes for dinner, but then the same scene played out the exact same way the next day, though this time it was even earlier. So I can say with some authority that Meyers Leonard, at least when he's in Las Vegas, eats frozen yogurt for breakfast.
I don't tell you this because it's particularly interesting. After all, Meyers starting the day with a bowl of froyo isn't on the same culinary peculiarity level as, say, Elliot Williams having never even tasted pizza
, but I think it serves as a decent metaphor for the kind of person Meyers is. If society at-large is yogurt, then Meyers Leonard is frozen yogurt: pretty much the same thing, but with a slight variation (in this case, freezing yogurt before serving) that adds something to the experience. The differences between regular yogurt and frozen yogurt, despite being slight, are immediately noticeable, and so too are Leonard's quirks, which have been picked up quickly by his new teammates.
"There's definitely a screw not tightened all the way," said Nolan Smith of Leonard, "but he's a funny guy to be around. We've been laughing constantly on the bus. We've got a bunch of great guys here. We've all been having a good time. He's the ringleader of all the jokes."
"Just watch him, he's a clown," said Wesley Matthews. "He's a funny dude. He's a big kid. He fits in with this team. What I like most about him is he's who he is, but then on the court he's a man. He plays tough, he's about his teammates and he's about winning."
Some of the greatest big men in NBA history have been some of the League's biggest characters. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played a prominent role in a Bruce Lee movie. Bill Walton, at least on one occasion, would sneak the Grateful Dead into a sold-out game at Memorial Coliseum. And of course there's Shaquille O'Neil, whose goofy exploits almost reach the level of his Hall of Fame playing career.
NBA fans seem to expect and demand constant seriousness from guards and wings (think of the praise for Kobe Bryant's determination or the condemnation of LeBron James for his pre-game ringleader antics in Cleveland), we don't mind and, in many cases, celebrate big men who don't take themselves too seriously.
At least if they can play. There's only so much tolerance, in any occupation, for the lovable loser and in the NBA, there's always someone a phone call away ready to step in and take your spot on the roster. But as with the aforementioned examples, Leonard knows there's a time and place for everything, including when to get serious about the business of winning basketball games.
"It's good to be able to not be serious all the time," said Leonard. "Of course, when professional situations present themselves, I'm going to handle myself as a professional. But after practice, everyone is cracking jokes. It's good to keep the mood light, especially with summer league."
When regular season training camp rolls around, Meyers will likely find no shortage of teammates willing to bust his chops on a daily basis. It comes with the territory of being a rookie, but for a guy with Meyers' personality, he'll certainly be able to handle it.
"He gives you something to talk about," said Matthews. "He brings it on himself, and that's good. Sometimes you need people like that. We've got a team full of that, a team full of clowns. He fits right in, he's just taller than everybody."