Gregg Popovich wasn’t having it Wednesday night.
The San Antonio Spurs coach rushed to the microphone late in the second quarter of a 109-102 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at the Frost Bank Center in Texas. Popovich was angry about how Spurs fans were treating Leonard after former Spurs star Kawhi Leonard shot free throws for the Clippers.
“Excuse me for a second. Can we stop all atrocities and let them play?” Popovich told fans as Leonard crouched between free throws. “That’s no class, that’s not who we are. Knock it off.”
Popovich walked away and gestured with his hands as some fans applauded briefly. The pose then quickly turned around.
Leonard first started with the Spurs in 2011. Leonard spent seven seasons in San Antonio and helped the franchise win the NBA title in 2014.
However, his departure from San Antonio was difficult. Leonard played in just nine games during the 2017-18 campaign due to a lingering quad injury, which he and the franchise reportedly had a disagreement over how to handle. This led to their relationship growing contentious and the Spurs eventually traded him to the Toronto Raptors. He won a championship there and has been with the Clippers since 2019.
Wednesday night boos, though, are nothing new. Since Leonard’s departure, Spurs fans have continued to boo him every time he’s in town. Even after the franchise landed French sensation Victor Vembanyama, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft earlier this year, they apparently aren’t out yet. The Leonard era was long behind them.
Still, Popovich is clearly going to try and do everything in his power. Spurs fans are not ready to listen.
“If I don’t have a Spurs jersey, they’ll be cheering me on for the rest of my life,” Leonard said after the game. Via ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “But like I said, they’re one of the best fans in the league and they’re very competitive. As soon as I come out here on this basketball court, they show it. It goes the other way.
“When I’m on the streets or going to restaurants, they show love. So that’s it.”
Leonard, 32, averaged 21 points and 5.3 rebounds this season. After holding the Spurs to just 14 points in the first quarter, the Clippers led nearly the entire game en route to a seven-point victory on Wednesday. Leonard led the Clippers with 26 points, four rebounds and four assists. Paul George finished with 24 points and eight rebounds, while James Harden added 16 points and nine assists.
Vembanyama had 22 points and 15 rebounds for the Spurs. He had a big lob dunk midway through the third quarter.
The Spurs are just 3-12 on the season with their latest loss, which marked their 10th straight. They will face the Golden State Warriors next Friday.