Kawhi Leonard blames media for fans relentless boos, ‘traitor' chants

DeMar DeRozan Gregg Popovich
Basketball: What kind of reception can Kawhi Leonard expect in his first return to San Antonio?

05 January, 2019

From the moment Kawhi Leonard stepped on the AT&T Center floor and was met with a chorus of boos, Thursday night belonged to DeMar DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs.

That has changed over the last month as San Antonio has won 10 of its last 13 games, including contests against playoff teams such as Denver, Boston, Philadelphia and the L.A. Clippers, so this is very much looking like a must-see event again. No, not at all.

And his old coach, I'm guessing, will always have a special place in his heart for Leonard for what they accomplished together.

The Spurs opened as 1.5-point favorites at home against the Raptors.

The custom jersey reads "Kawitter" on the back, a sentiment to the consensus opinion of Spurs fans that Kawhi Leonard gave up on the team after sitting out most of last season with a highly questionable injury to his quad. DeRozan, who has said he felt betrayed by a Raptors team that had committed to him before dealing him, had plenty of motivation heading into this game.

He made good on his words, finishing Thursday night with 21 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists and, most importantly, a big 125-107 Spurs victory. He would go on to record a double-double in one half for the first time in his career as he entered the break with 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

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It wasn't much fun for Leonard and the Raptors, who saw a three-game winning streak snapped in inglorious fashion. He ultimately forced the trade that sent him and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for a package headlined by DeRozan. "Things like that only get me better for the long run, so it's going to be a good game".

DeRozan is just the fifth player in National Basketball Association history to post a triple-double in his first game against a former team, according to research from Elias Sports Bureau.

The Spurs now have a record of 22-17 and are seventh place in the Western Conference. We'll see what the fans show.

"I felt badly about it", Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

"Kawhi is a high-character guy", Popovich said, via the San Antonio Express-News.

"It really wasn't [anything]", DeRozan told ESPN.

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