The reception didn’t surprise Leonard.
“No,” Leonard said. “Media does a great job to stir people’s minds and to influence them to think a certain way. So, I already knew how that was going to be the way the media was.”
Leonard forced a trade from the Spurs. Ergo, Spurs fans dislike him. It’s that simple.
Maybe different coverage would make Leonard look more sympathetic. There’s a case the Spurs mishandled his injury. But that wouldn’t change the underlying issue: Spurs fans are loyal to the Spurs and loathe players who cross the Spurs.
And it’s not as if Leonard’s reputation for quitting on the Spurs was purely a media creation. Tony Parker, who got hurt around the same time as Leonard and returned sooner, said his own injury was 100 times worse than Leonard’s. Manu Ginobili indicated Leonard wasn’t doing enough to build camaraderie with his teammates. David Robinson said Leonard didn’t return his messages. Gregg Popovich said Leonard wasn’t a leader.
This isn’t the media. It’s prominent Spurs – Leonard’s teammates and coach and a franchise great – informing fan opinion.
Not that fans needed convincing to boo Leonard. They would do that without a word said about him after how he forced his way out.