Gregg Popovich shades Spurs fans in extraordinary outburst: "Show a little class"
San Antonio, Texas - San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich staged an impromptu mid-game intervention Wednesday as Spurs fans targeted former player Kawhi Leonard during the team's NBA in-season tournament loss against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Clippers ace Leonard, who made an acrimonious departure from San Antonio in 2018, was subjected to loud booing as he lined up to take free throws near the end of the second quarter in San Antonio.
The heckling drew the ire of San Antonio's famously gruff veteran coach Popovich, who grabbed a courtside microphone to address the home fans directly.
"Excuse me for a second, please stop all the booing, let these guys play, and show a little class," Popovich barked. "It's not who we are. Knock off the booing."
Popovich was reluctant to expand on the incident after the game, saying simply that he did not want Leonard to be motivated by his detractors in the stands.
"You don't poke the bear," he said. "Anybody who knows anything about sports knows you don't poke the bear. That's my answer."
Given the fact that Leonard top-scored with 26 points in the Clippers' 109-102 win, it's hard to argue against the head coach.
Kawhi Leonard defends Spurs fans
Leonard, meanwhile, brushed off the catcalls, saying it was to be expected.
"If I don't have a Spurs jersey on, they're probably gonna boo me for the rest of my career," he told reporters after the game.
"It is what it is. They're one of the best fanbases in the league and they're competitive, and when I step on this basketball court I can hear that."
"When I'm on the streets or going into restaurants, they show love."
Leonard launched his career with San Antonio after being traded to the Texas club immediately after being picked by Indiana with the 15th selection in the 2011 draft.
He played a starring role in San Antonio's 2014 NBA Finals victory, but his stay came to an unhappy end in 2018, when he demanded a trade from the club amid differences over how to manage his injury rehabilitation.
The 32-year-old then joined the Toronto Raptors, leading them to his second NBA championship and Finals MVP in the 2018-2019 season.
Cover photo: RONALD CORTES / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP