Gregg Popovich grabs arena microphone, pleads with Spurs fans to stop booing Kawhi Leonard mid-game

Gregg Popovich grabs arena microphone, pleads with Spurs fans to stop booing Kawhi Leonard mid-game

Gregg Popovich didn’t have it Wednesday night.

The San Antonio Spurs coach, late in the second quarter of their 109-102 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, rushed to the microphone at the Frost Bank Center in Texas. Popovich, along with former Spurs star Kawhi Leonard shooting free throws for the Clippers, was angry at the way Spurs fans treated Leonard.

“Excuse me for a second. Can we stop all the booing and let these guys play?” Popovich told fans as Leonard bent down between free throws. “There’s no class, it’s not about who we are. Stop the booing.”

Popovich then walked away and made a gesture with his arms while some fans applauded briefly. Then the boos came back quickly.

Gregg Popovich didn't hesitate to grab the microphone and address fans directly at Frostbank Center on Wednesday night

Gregg Popovich didn’t hesitate to grab the microphone and address fans directly at Frostbank Center on Wednesday night.(Daniel Dunn/USA Today) (USA Today USBW/Reuters)

Leonard got his start with the Spurs in 2011 after the organization traded him on draft night with the No. 15 overall pick. Leonard spent seven seasons in San Antonio and helped the team capture the NBA title in 2014.

But his exit from San Antonio was difficult. Leonard played in just nine games during the 2017-18 season due to a lingering quad injury, which he and the team allegedly disagreed on how to handle. This led to their relationship becoming controversial and eventually the Spurs traded him to the Toronto Raptors. He won a championship there, and has been with the Clippers since 2019.

But Wednesday night’s booing is nothing new. Since Leonard’s departure, Spurs fans have constantly booed him every time he is in town. It’s clear they’re not done with his exit even after the franchise acquired French sensation Victor Wimpanyama with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft earlier this year. The Leonard era has been a long time coming.

However, it is clear that Popovich will try to do everything in his power to stop the booing. Spurs fans are not willing to listen.

“If I didn’t wear a Spurs shirt, they would probably boo me my whole career,” Leonard said after the game. Via ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “But I mean that’s the way it is. Like I said, they’re one of the best fans in the league and they’re very competitive. As soon as I step on the basketball court here, they show they’re going to the other side.”

“When I’m on the streets or going to restaurants, they show love. That’s how it is.”

Leonard, 32, entered the game averaging 21 points and 5.3 rebounds this season. After holding the Spurs to just 14 points in the first quarter, the Clippers led for almost the entire game on Wednesday en route to a seven-point victory. Leonard was the Clippers’ top scorer with 26 points, four rebounds and four assists. Paul George added 24 points and eight rebounds, and James Harden added 16 points and nine assists.

Wembanyama scored 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Spurs. He had a big surge midway through the third quarter as well.

The Spurs are just 3-12 on the season with their last loss, which was their 10th in a row. They will face the Golden State Warriors next Friday.

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