For a player who is known for his ultra-quiet demeanor, Kawhi Leonard’s departure from San Antonio was rather controversial. The All-NBA forward missed all but nine games last season due to an injury and made it clear that he did not see a long-term future with the Spurs, which led to his trade to Toronto.
It’s worked out well for both sides — the Raptors have the most wins in the league and the Spurs are on fire right now — but as we learned on Thursday night, some bad feelings still exist for those in San Antonio. That’s because Leonard returned to the city for the first time since the trade, as the Raptors went to the AT&T Center for a nationally televised game.
San Antonio fans made it clear they were not happy with Leonard, booing him before the game and during introductions. The Spurs faithful started off by expressing their discontent during warm-ups.
— Kristen Ledlow (@KristenLedlow) January 4, 2019
Then, when it was time for introductions, San Antonio fans ramped up the booing. To make matters even more awkward, Leonard was introduced right after the Spurs introduced Danny Green, who received cheers from the crowd.
A huge ovation for Danny Green, thunderous boos for Kawhi Leonard… pic.twitter.com/KWK8KmX9pC
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) January 4, 2019
One fan even made it a point to let it be known that they view him as a snake for how things ended between Leonard and the franchise.
Kawhi is getting booed in the lay-up line …. every touch, in case there was any doubt: pic.twitter.com/qHMm1eg5yf
— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) January 4, 2019
However, it wasn’t all hard feelings. The Spurs wanted to try and show their appreciation for both Leonard and Green by airing a video package thanking the two for their contributions to the team. The good news is that it absolutely worked for one guy. The bad news is, uh, well…
The Spurs are showing a thank you video for Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard before the game. Each time Green is shown, the crowd cheers wildly. When Leonard is shown, he’s booed even louder.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) January 4, 2019
Leonard, unsurprisingly, didn’t seem shaken up by this, even though Spurs fans really laid it on thick. It also doesn’t come as a surprise that this went down — San Antonio is used to its homegrown star players sticking around and being part of their franchise, so Leonard was a serious departure from the norm, even if things are going well for the Spurs right now.