Gregg Popovich: I hope Spurs fans treat Kawhi Leonard with ‘kindness and respect’

AP Photo/Darren Abate

Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs endured an ugly split last summer. Now with the Raptors, Leonard will return to San Antonio on Thursday.

Spurs president-coach Gregg Popovich, via Jeff Garcia of NBA 4 San Antonio:

“I don’t speak for other people but I hope we treat everybody with kindness and respect, said Popovich. “We always have in the past.”

I’d understand San Antonio fans booing Leonard, as long as jeers don’t rise to anything personal. Though they had great years together – peaking with Leonard leading the Spurs to the 2014 NBA title – Leonard became a sports villain by requesting a trade. That doesn’t make him a bad person, but he can be treated as the antagonist within this framework.

That said, Popovich’s request will carry weight. I’m not every San Antonio fan will cheer Leonard, but I bet some who were on the fence about hot to receive him will take their cue from Popovich.