Gregg Popovich says he feels 'badly' Kawhi Leonard was booed during his return to San Antonio

Kawhi Leonard and former coach Gregg Popovich hugged and had a long discussion after the Spurs’ 125-107 win over the Raptors on Thursday.

The game was the first time Leonard had faced San Antonio since he requested a trade and was sent to Toronto this summer.

Leonard also spoke to San Antonio assistant coach Chip Engelland as well as former teammates Patty Mills, Bryn Forbes, Derrick White and Rudy Gay following Toronto’s loss, according to ESPN.

The 27-year-old Leonard was booed by Spurs’ fans throughout the game and they chanted traitor at him while he was shooting a free throw. 

Popovich told reporters he “felt badly about” the reception Leonard received.

“Kawhi is a high-character guy,” Popovich said, via the San Antonio Express-News. “We all make decisions in our lives, what we are going to do with our futures, and he has that same right as any of us. So, I felt badly, honestly.”

Leonard was limited to just nine games with the Spurs in 2017-18 and reportedly asked to be moved because he was unhappy with the way the team handled his rehab from a right quad injury.

Leonard and Danny Green were then dealt from the Spurs to the Raptors for a package centered around DeMar DeRozan in mid-July. DeRozan tallied his first career triple-double for San Antonio on Thursday.

Popovich told reporters in late November he thought Leonard was a “great player, but he wasn’t a leader or anything” during his seven seasons in San Antonio. Popovich regrets “both his comments and the way they were perceived,” according to a report from ESPN.

The win moved the Spurs to 22-17 this season while the Raptors fell to 28-12.