The San Antonio Spurs’ slow start from the three-point line, hesitant half-court offense, and continued struggle in late-game situations were all completely overshadowed by yet another “viral” moment from Head Coach Gregg Popovich. Usually, he waits until the postgame media availability to set the internet on fire with an insightful quote or witty reply; this time he took to the microphone late in the 2nd quarter.
To Give Some Perspective
Former Spurs are very rarely booed in their return games, if so VERY lightly. Just a few games back Jakob Poeltl was greeted by a thunderous ovation following his tribute video. And Yes, he received respectful cheers and noticeable boos from the crowd whenever he had the ball during the game. But before, at halftime, and postgame he received FAR MORE thanks, took the time to greet dozens of fans, and received COUNTLESS hugs. Not just from former teammates, but also the on-court staff and arena personnel he saw day in and day out in his five seasons in San Antonio.
That obviously isn’t the case with Kawhi Leonard. The very player Poeltl was traded for along with 6-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan. Jakob has found his way back to Toronto while DeRozan is still with the Bulls, for now. But both were somewhat unwillingly plucked from their long-term destination after Kawhi detonated the third phase of the Spurs’ three-decade dynasty. A trade request culminating in one of if not THE ugliest break-ups in recent NBA history. I would say only James Harden’s dramatic exit from Philadelphia rivaled it in both utter confusion and a lack of transparency (from all parties involved).
San Antonio Spurs Fans Let Their Frustration Be Known
Five years removed from essentially getting ghosted the fans CLEARLY have unaddressed emotions following the falling out. Those in attendance both Monday & Wednesday night “paid for their right” to voice them. Some would say that Kawhi has repeatedly dodged this situation in the numerous returns due to injury or load management in visitor games he’s missed with the Toronto Raptors and now the Los Angeles Clippers. These are just the fourth and fifth games he’s actually played in as a member of the visiting team.
I don’t think anyone was surprised by the volume or consistency of the cheers each and every time Kawhi touched the ball or went to the foul line. I was utterly shocked to hear one of the most recognizable voices in this area code abruptly address the crowd in the middle of a deadfall situation in between Leonard’s free throws.
“That’s not who we are that’s EXACTLY who we are. Loud, Passionate, LOYAL.”
By no means was it disrespectful or crossed any reasonable line. We’ve seen far uglier situations across the league-leading to a very strict tightening of regulations for fans seated in court-side seating and lower sections. Nothing that warranted anything more than a laugh between peers as we often did. “They still hate him”
”Hell hath no fury like an NBA fan who can no longer wear their favorite jersey”
I was firmly in the camp of “Pop being Pop, chess not checkers” as the Spurs would end the half on a 9-3 run trailing by just six points. The near-sellout crowd was even more engaged in the second half. Maybe he was just trying to rally the troops maybe even reverse psychology…?
“Get it all out now so we can finally get over it” and maybe that could be what it was as. But we will never know, and he will never tell us. Coach Pops’ postgame comments seemed only to intentionally muddy the waters.
I don’t believe that he would go that far out of fear;
he would do it out of respect. Such a drastic action both in and out of character for such a reserved, yet often outspoken coach.
San Antonio Spurs Losing Streak Extends to Double Digits
Sitting at 10 games including their three in-season tournament matchups, this active losing streak is surprisingly already the 4th longest in team history. The longest being the 16-game bundle of woes they received last season. However, three of the Spurs’ four longest losing streaks in franchise history have come at some point in the last three seasons.
Their longest home losing streak is 7 games, and they’ve regrettably dropped their last six matchups at the newly christened Frost Bank Center; quite the housewarming gift. The Spurs’ lone home win this season was the overtime victory against Houston on October 27th.
After a two-game road trip against the last two consecutive NBA Champions, Golden State on Friday and Denver on Sunday. The Spurs will return home next Thursday to host the Atlanta Hawks.
It’s also worth noting that their starting point guard will likely be booed even LOUDER than Kawhi Leonard was last night. Former Spur DeJounte Murray has been increasingly vocal about his 6 seasons in San Antonio. I expect the crowd will be equally as vocal, regardless of Coach Pop and his request.
Stay tuned at Project Spurs for more news on the San Antonio Spurs.