Spurs fans rain down boos on Kawhi Leonard during player introductions
- Author: Stacy Allen Jan 05, 2019,
Jan 05, 2019, 1:51
At the end of the game, Leonard hugged former coach Gregg Popovich, then walked over to the Spurs' bench to say hello to assistant coach Ettore Messina. "He's won a championship and grew up here". There are two sides to every story, and Leonard would probably argue that the Spurs were at fault for the way they handled his lingering quad injury.
It was a freaky turn of events, to be sure.
"Spurs Family" is a common slogan the franchise uses to describe the relationship its players have with the city and fans. But Leonard's unhappiness and request for a trade stunned the organization. The reception he will receive on Thursday night should reflect that.
Leonard was booed during pregame introductions. We'll see what the fans show.
Two days after being serenaded by chants of "M-V-P!" in Toronto, Raptors star Kawhi Leonard is about to return to an arena where fans won't be almost so kind. "I'm hoping one thing, I can predict or guess another, but I'm waiting to see like everyone else".
"I feel good except for losing the game. At the same time, it's a competitive nature here".
The mood will be much different when DeMar DeRozan returns to Toronto on February 22, of course. He ultimately forced the trade that sent him and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for a package headlined by DeRozan. While I'm sure it wasn't easy for Kawhi or anyone, we wish him well with the future of his career.
"You get lost in the game itself and you don't really hear a whole lot that's going on", Nurse said.
Leonard's former teammate Patty Mills also brushed off any hint of animosity.
What happened, happened-Leonard felt it was best to move on from San Antonio after he didn't like how the team handled his decision to sit out. He declined to provide further details on how his relationship with the Spurs deteriorated and why he asked to be traded. Traitor!' and 'Quitter! Quitter!' from the capacity crowd that adored him during his seven seasons in San Antonio.
The video tribute was an effort to sooth fans feeling toward Leonard.
"It's going to be fun", Leonard said.
The next confusing, strange, inspiring yet nearly heartbreaking chapter of this saga will be written on February 22nd, when DeRozan returns to Toronto for the first time in a non-Raptors uniform. While it was not necessarily a signature performance from the 2014 Finals MVP, his effort was certainly not the reason the Raptors fell short Thursday night.
Leonard is averaging career highs in points (27.3) and rebounds (8.2). He is shooting 43.3 per cent from the field and 32.5 per cent from three-point range.
"We move on in life", Popovich said. Early on, he kind of had some rust built up from not playing for so long, but that kind of chiselled away slowly but surely. "We shared a lot of success together with Kawhi, and he was a very, very important part of that".