Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard isn’t surprised to still get a hostile reaction from Spurs fans, even though it’s been nearly five years since he forced his way out of San Antonio. Although he delivered a championship to the city as the Finals MVP in 2014, most Spurs die-hards are bitter about the way his time with the franchise ended.
“The fans are very competitive here,” Leonard said after being booed nearly every time he touched the ball Friday night, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. That 2014 title was the fifth in a 15-year span for San Antonio, but his desire to leave following a dispute with the team over an injury changed the direction of the franchise.
Leonard added that even though San Antonio fans can be tough on him while he’s playing, he gets a much different reception when he’s out in the community.
“When I’m at the games, you might hear boos,” he said, “but if I’m walking on the street or going to restaurants, people come up to me and still tell me how much they love my game and like me as a person. So, I know it’s just a competition once I’m here. I understand.”
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- The uncertain availability of Leonard and Paul George has been cited for the Clippers‘ struggles this season, but the team’s defensive collapse deserves just as much blame, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. L.A.’s half-court defense was second in the league through mid-December, but it has fallen to 27th since then. A major issue is protecting the rim, as the Clippers are allowing opponents to shoot a league-best 70% near the basket over the last month.
- Lakers guard Dennis Schröder broke into the league with Atlanta when Darvin Ham was an assistant coach there and Ham’s direct approach made Schröder want to play for him again, per Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Schröder not only reunited with Ham in free agency last summer, he returned to a franchise that he was unable to reach an extension with in 2021. “Of course we had a couple of other options (in free agency),” Schröder said. “But for me, to make it right, that’s the spot. It’s like, ‘OK, it’s got to be the Lakers.”
- JaMychal Green‘s 13-point performance off the bench Friday with four starters sitting out showed why the Warriors wanted to sign him so badly, observes Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. The game marked Green’s return to the court after missing more than a month with health issues, which included spending a week with COVID in a hotel room in New York City and a staph infection in his leg, details Anthony Slater of The Athletic.