Scottie Pippen recalls Chicago meeting to tutor Kawhi Leonard
Jan 09 2019
Former Spurs star Kawhi Leonard was back in San Antonio on Thursday night for the first time since he forced a trade to Toronto in July, and while he endured constant heckling throughout the game, the bigger confrontation may have taken place in the stands between his mother and an irate fan.
Popovich and Leonard hugged and had a long discussion after the Spurs' win over the Raptors on Thursday.
Many months before the fractures that led to Leonard's departure from San Antonio began to surface, Popovich approached Pippen and asked him to speak to Leonard after a Spurs-Bulls game in Pippen's hometown of Chicago. Leonard had to take a step back at the free throw line and compose himself amid chants of "Traitor!"
Leonard said he was not surprised by the fans' reaction.
Following the Raptors' 125-107 loss to San Antonio, Leonard said he knew he would be booed because of the way he has been portrayed in the media. We all make decisions in our lives with what we're going to do with our futures, and he has that same right as any of us. "So, I felt badly, honestly".
"I kind of admired his game and told him I'd been watching him and could see he's been getting better and better", Pippen said. The Spurs won their 10th straight against Toronto at home.
Leonard and Danny Green were then dealt from the Spurs to the Raptors for a package centered around DeMar DeRozan in mid-July.
Leonard would go on to score only 21 points in 33 minutes though he earned those points efficiently on 8-13 shooting from the field.
Kyle Lowry has appeared in 30 games this season for the Raptors.
Spurs: DeRozan is the first Spurs player to have at least 15 points 10 rebounds and five assists in a half since Tim Duncan in 2007. This was the first time DeRozan recorded a triple-double in his career, making it a successful game against his former squad.