Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green made their long-awaited first return to San Antonio after the Spurs traded them to Toronto for DeMar DeRozan, and it was an open question whether Spurs fans would boo the star who helped deliver the franchise their fifth NBA championship five seasons ago.
They did. Spurs fans booed Leonard — but they cheered Green.
Funny compare and contrast between Kawhi and Danny Green pic.twitter.com/WrCknDw2mC— Evan Closky (@EvanClosky) January 4, 2019
They also called Leonard a traitor, in unison.
And now Kawhi Leonard has 18,581 people telling him he is a traitor... pic.twitter.com/bESXlFSn7g— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) January 4, 2019
But Leonard and his former coach Gregg Popovich shared a moment after San Antonio handed Toronto its Thursday night beatdown. They smiled, hugged each other, and walked off the court together.
Gregg Popovich and Kawhi Leonard hug it out and chat after game pic.twitter.com/b6oOpbZ3H1— gifdsports (@gifdsports) January 4, 2019
Popovich later said he felt “badly” about the boos.
I felt badly about it. Kawhi’s a high-character guy. We all make decisions with our lives, what we’re going to do with our futures. He has that same right as any of us. So I felt badly, in all honesty.
Green was incredibly popular in San Antonio. He spent eight seasons on the Spurs as a 3-and-D wing who helped shore up the perimeter on both ends for Popovich’s team. It’s why he embraced everyone when he returned to town.
Leonard, on the other hand, warmed up on the Toronto end of the court without greeting Popovich or many of his old teammates, choosing instead to do so after the game.
Leonard and Green were also given a tribute video together, instead of a video for each one of them.