The leader is the coach. Having a natural leader on the team is great, but it's counterproductive when the self-presumptive leader talks about being the leader. Leading by example is priceless. Being a vocal team leader is of dubious worth. Corrections, direction, reprimands or challenges from a presumptive team leader should be extremely sparing. Anyone that has played any organized hoop can tell you how disruptive it is to have a player that acts like the coach. The best player on the team may or may not be a good motivator. I blame recent presidential politics for the inflated status of the word.
Toughness as relates to basketball is inseparable from mental toughness. It is manifested physically while the clock is running and within the rules of the game. Getting in someone's face is not a measure of toughness. Getting under someone's skin while remaining cool is. Throwing a half-assed punch at someone's face is not toughness. Cooly draining a three in someone's face is. Either dealing or receiving a hard foul with equanimity is toughness. Giving hard glares and blowing smoke is not. Anyone that has played pickup ball in an area park can tell you that fist-clenching, chest-bumping and hollow threats are cheap and mean nothing. True toughness comes on the following play when a player takes it hard to the rack and scores on his opponent.
It's great. It's necessary. But lots of muscle mass doesn't protect from injury. Everyone's meniscus and and cartilage is made up of the same stuff. It doesn't get any thicker or more resilient with exercise. The musculature that protects the knee and holds the parts in place are generally the smaller, shorter muscles. A waist-thick thigh doesn't necessarily help and can hurt. 15lbs of beef on the shoulder are definitely not helping the ankles at all and it all adds up. Before the draft there was lots of talk about how Durant was going to get hurt. Who go hurt? Just to clarify, I'm still an Oden man. Long live The Velvet Chinstrap!