Now we wrote about this game, saying that fun isn’t going to have anything with it, as Kawhi Leonard stated several days ago.
The former favorite son of all the San Antonio fans experienced last night what is like when you “betray” the Spurs organization.
Ain’t funny at all.
Throughout the whole game, the former Spur forward received trash talk, booes, and all kinds of insults from angry fans.
The player wasn’t surprised by the way the crowd behaved, and according to his words, the media had a lot to do with their state of mind last night. Leonard didn’t directly accuse them, but indicated that the public was a bit instrumented in his case.
“No,” Leonard said when asked was he surprised. “Media does a great mind to stir people’s minds and to influence them to think a certain way. So, I already knew how that was going to be the way the media was.”
Kawhi Leonard postgame after #Raptors loss to #Spurs…said fan reception was mostly expected because media stirred controversy, added he didn't see tribute video, but might in the future…Leonard finishes with 21 points in first return to San Antonio #KSATsports #KSATnews #NBA pic.twitter.com/kqLGwHQsDh
— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) January 4, 2019
Prior to the contest, the Spurs made a tribute video for their former players who are now in Canada. Leonard and Danny Green left a huge trace here in Texas being heavily involved in 2014 title. Leonard was the NBA Finals MVP back then, and Green was one of the key pieces in San Antonio’s machinery, destroying Miami Heat with his three-point shooting, and being the top defender in the lineup at series.
When Green hugged with Popovich before the start of the event, that gesture had a warm reception. When Kawhi did the same after the game, the situation wasn’t that comfortable.
All that made Spurs’ coach a bit sad, and he felt bad because of all the what happened. The five-time champion with this franchise, and one of the best head coaches of all times, stood in player’s defense, saying that everyone has the right to make decisions about his future, and that Leonard’s case is no different than that.
“I felt badly about it,” said Pop, when asked what are his impressions on the booes and the hostile treatment Leonard received at AT&T Center.
— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) January 4, 2019
“We all make decisions in our lives about what we’re going to do with our futures, and he has that same right as any of us. So, I felt badly, honestly.”
The atmosphere was so intense, that at one point, one of the fans started trash-talking with Leonard’s mom who came to watch her son facing the club where he spent 8 years.
Miss Kim Leonard didn’t want to stay silent to many insults, and she decided to respond back. It drew a lot of intention, but fortunately there haven’t been some more significant incident.
Kawhi’s mom wasn’t too happy pic.twitter.com/5xzyvD4u3M
— David Fajardo (@davidmfajardoo) January 4, 2019
Leonard had a solid night on the court, dropping 21 points, but having only one rebound which is way below his standards of play. His shooting percentage was solid, 8 of 13, but the overall impression is that he did crack under pressure a little bit.
Danny Green didn’t score a single point, leaving the game with six missed three-pointers and 4 rebounds.
The whole of Toronto Raptors’ team was a bit slow last night which is why they lost 125-107. Everything was already decided in the first quarter, when Spurs demolished the guests with 38-19, using the electricity surrounding the match and the unusual atmosphere in their favor.
It was the first time that many of the Raptors fans play in these kinds of circumstances, and one other negative factor for them was the absence of Kyle Lowry who once again couldn’t help his teammates because of lower back pain.
After this match, the Raptors will be heading for Wisconsin to face their biggest rivals in the Eastern Conference and the team who is their main challenger for the top seed at the moment, the Milwaukee Bucks.
We’ll see if Leonard managed to recover from last night’s slump, and bounced back to his usual level of play.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.