For Spurs fans, January 3rd was circled and highlighted as one of the most anticipated games of the year. For one, it was the first time Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan and Spurs forward Jakob Poeltl would play against their former team. Second, it was the return of long time fan favorite Danny Green’s homecoming. But, most of all, it was the return of former franchise hero, Kawhi Leonard.
The AT&T Center was bursting at the seams with boos and jeers from angry Spurs fans towards Leonard throughout warmups and the game, basically from start to finish. The once beloved star, clearly affected by the thunderous boos, still finished with 21 points.
The highs of the night was the first career triple double for DeRozan, Green’s return, and a resounding 125-107 victory for the Spurs against the 2nd best team in the Eastern Conference. DeRozan finished with 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists.
Still, all the attention was on Kawhi’s return. The 2014 Finals MVP and former Defensive Player of the Year was looking forward to facing Spurs fans leading up to game despite expecting negative treatment.
The word “traitor” and Kawhi’s uncle’s name were among the things chanted towards Kawhi with some fans choosing to just boo instead of following suit.
Spurs fans may never really know what went on last season and are just reacting on the information that was given, but there certainly has to be some level of respect for what he contributed during the 2014 NBA Finals and throughout his career with the Spurs on AND off the court.
To the fans, who personally directed jeers and ugly comments towards his family who were in attendance at the game, those actions were undoubtedly inexcusable. We are better than that. Boo, chant, but don’t get personal.
Another highlight of the night was rookie Lonnie Walker IV’s career debut. Met with the entire arena chanting “Lonnie”, Spurs fans gave him such a warm and receptive welcome. After making a 3 point shot, the house erupted as if the Spurs won the NBA Championship.
This was our one game to really let Kawhi Leonard hear our anger and frustration as a fan base. Guys like Walker, Bryn Forbes, Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl are the future of the Spurs franchise, and the future is looking bright. So, forget the past and welcome the future. And as always, Go Spurs Go.