Leonard spent seven seasons with San Antonio, but the relationship soured in a weird last season that saw him play just nine games due to a quadriceps injury. However, the Spurs were able to get their revenge in the form of a 125-107 victory.
SAN ANTONIO - Toronto Raptors wing Kawhi Leonard acknowledged that "at times" he wishes things would have gone differently during his acrimonious split from the San Antonio Spurs, adding that his time with the franchise "meant a lot" for his development.
The same thing happened during introductions, as Spurs fans gave Green a standing ovation and then ramped up the boos for Leonard.
Leonard warmed up for his highly anticipated return by scoring a career-best 45 points in Tuesday's 122-116 home win over the Utah Jazz. "It's the National Basketball Association, you're going to have times like this, those are times you have to step up". DeRozan tallied his first career triple-double for San Antonio on Thursday.
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"He was in high gear tonight", Toronto coach Nick Nurse said.
"I don't speak for other people, but I hope that we'll treat everybody with kindness and respect", said Popovich.
When the trade was first announced, DeRozan posted on social media that he felt "betrayed" by the Toronto organization. He ultimately forced the trade that sent him and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for a package headlined by DeRozan.
"I told him it was about time", Popovich said. That possession was followed by Leonard being unable to corral an alley-oop pass, which led to DeRozan tossing in a runner and being fouled by Serge Ibaka.
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DeRozan was met with "MVP" chants earlier in the game when he went to the line.
- Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) January 4, 2019Let us come to your job and BOO you for 2hrs for you looking out for YOURSELF when teams time after time do what's best for THEM!
On an emotional night, the fans had their say even if Leonard may never publicly utter a word about the ordeal or take some blame for his exit.
With 30 seconds left in overtime, Kevin Durant lost control of the ball in the paint and chased it into the corner. DeRozan also recorded his first double-double in a half.
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