Something strange and likely unprecedented in the NBA happened in the first half of Clippers-Spurs. Kawhi Leonard was at the line and the entire arena was booing him like they have been doing every time he visits San Antonio since his controversial exit from the franchise. Then all of a sudden, Gregg Popovich grabbed the mic and addressed the crowd to ask them to stop.
The crowd’s response? To boo louder, of course.
Pop clearly had the right intentions. There was a lot of drama with Kawhi Leonard’s exit but it’s been a while since that happened and Pop clearly thinks everyone should move on. He probably has a good idea of why Leonard left and doesn’t hold a grudge. The legendary coach has always been nice and even affectionate towards Leonard since then, at least in front of the cameras, so it’s safe to say he doesn’t have any ill will towards Kawhi.
The fans are another story, and Pop should have known better. They only had the rumors that surfaced in the media to go by when it came to figuring out the reasons why Kawhi wanted out, which didn’t paint a pretty picture. Since leaving Leonard has largely stayed quiet but uncle Dennis has actually talked about the situation and blamed the Spurs. Of course some resentment will still be there, especially considering the franchise hasn’t enjoyed a lot of success since Kawhi’s exit.
Spurs season-ticket holder Ken Garcia, 62, said he thought Popovich asking fans to stop booing Kawhi was out of bounds:— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) November 23, 2023
"I didn't agree with him. Booing is part of being a fan. As long as you are not belligerent, you should be able to boo. A fan has the right to boo."
In the end, it was clearly a mistake by Pop to grab the mic. It only drew more attention to the situation, as he antagonized a crowd that was not doing anything actually inappropriate. Kawhi seemed fine with the fans expressing themselves, booing is common in sports and there’s a reason why coaches don’t make announcements midgame. As entertaining as that moment was, hopefully we won’t see any other instance throughout the season.