Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard booed, Danny Green cheered in Spurs return

Kawhi Leonard received some passionate boos from the crowd in his first game back in San Antonio while Danny Green was greeted with cheers.

Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green made their returns to the San Antonio Spurs Thursday for the first time as members of the Toronto Raptors and were welcomed very differently.

Beginning with the warmup lay-up line, every time Leonard had the ball he was mercilessly booed, while for Green it was the exact opposite as he was cheered on like he was still a member of the Spurs.

This was then followed up by a tribute video that the Spurs put together for both Leonard and Green where the same duality could be heard through the television broadcast.

Then, during the starting player introductions — as Leonard and Green stood side by side — the biggest cheer-jeer combination of the night was heard, with Green soaking it all in and putting his hand up to acknowledge the crowd while Leonard just stone-faced ignored it all, clapping mindlessly.

Green followed up that gesture afterwards by going up to give his former coach, Gregg Popovich, a big hug.

And for those wondering where Leonard was in all this, he was at centre court getting ready for tip-off, trying to keep his emotions in check.

That wouldn’t last long though as, on the very first possession, he took the ball, dribbled it hard into the heart of his former team’s defence and drew an and-1 in the process while letting out a primal scream amidst a chorus of boos.

That seemed to be the only highlight for Leonard in the early goings of Thursday’s game though as he proceeded to see his old team torch his new one 38-19 after the first quarter, with DeMar DeRozan— the key player and beloved Raptors icon he was traded in exchange for — go off for an opening-frame nine points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Things didn’t get much better for Leonard and the Raptors in the second quarter, either. As DeRozan continued to torch the Raptors — finishing the half with 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists — midway through the frame, Leonard stepped up to the free-throw line and was actually cascaded with calls of “traitor” and “quitter.”

Booing opposing players — especially if they were previously on the team you cheer for — is pretty par for the course in pro sports, but that doesn’t mean it sits well with everyone. Take Denver Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas, for example, he wasn’t having the hate Leonard was receiving from the San Antonio crowd.

Kind sentiments from his peers or not, the Spurs crowd definitely had the last laugh when it came to Leonard as not only did they get to see their team blow Leonard’s new one out of the water, they also saw the star guard they got in return for Leonard hang his first career triple-double on him in the process.

As such, the Spurs fans were feeling pretty feisty near the end of the game and started an “overrated” chant that we can only assume was directed at Leonard — but if it was at the Raptors’ direction, in general, that would also be understandable given their deplorable performance.

So in the end Leonard didn’t have the return he wanted, and Green, despite the positive vibes, also didn’t have the best of evenings scoring zero points and going 0-for-6 from three-point range.

At least, when it was all said and done, Leonard did finally receive some warmth from the Spurs as he enjoyed a nice moment with Popovich after the final buzzer sounded.

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