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Gregg Popovich has no regrets over chastising crowd for booing Kawhi Leonard: ‘It was hateful’

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San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich grabbed the mic during his team’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night and told the fans to stop booing Kawhi Leonard. 

Leonard, who played in San Antonio for the first seven years of his career but requested a trade in 2018, was at the free-throw line on Wednesday when Popovich grabbed the microphone. 

Gregg Popovich speaks with his team

Gregg Popovich head coach of the San Antonio Spurs talks with his team during game against the Los Angeles Clippers in the second half at Frost Bank Center on November 22, 2023, in San Antonio, Texas.  (Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

“Excuse me for a second,” he said on the microphone. “Can we stop all the booing and let these guys play? It’s got no class, it’s not who we are. Knock off the booing.”

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Prior to his Spurs facing the Golden State Warriors on Friday, the five-time winner of the NBA championship said he had no regrets over his actions. 

“Absolutely not. It’s pretty easy to understand,” Popovich told reporters. “I listened to it for a while, and it just got louder and louder and uglier and uglier. And I felt sorry for him, and I was embarrassed for our city, for our organization.

“Because that’s not who we are. That’s not how we’ve conducted ourselves for the last 25 years. It’s the opposite of the way we’ve conducted ourselves, the way we’ve worked in the community.”

Popovich called the booing “hateful” and “mean-spirited,” which continued after Popovich’s announcement. 

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Kawhi Leonard, #2 of the LA Clippers, talks to Head Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs after the game on November 22, 2023, at the Frost Bank Center in San Antonio, Texas. (Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

“Now don’t get me wrong, our fans, they’ve been great,” he continued. “They’ve supported us, and it was kind of a one-off that night. They’ve been great. Our commitment to the community has been great. And we’ve loved every minute that they’ve been there supporting us. 

“But it’s kind of an indication of the world we live in today. It was hateful. It was really disrespectful. And it was just mean-spirited.” 

Leonard was drafted by the Spurs in 2011 and helped San Antonio to an NBA championship in 2014. He requested out of San Antonio in 2018 and won the NBA Finals with the Toronto Raptors the following season. 

“We’re the team that when somebody comes back to town after having been a Spur, so you first come back to town, we show a video of them,” Popovich said. “I can remember when Kawhi and Danny Green came back from Toronto, we showed videos of those guys. And the crowd didn’t react like that. 

Kawhi Leonard looks on during warm ups

Kawhi Leonard, #2 of the LA Clippers, looks on during warm-ups before the game against the Houston Rockets at Crypto.com Arena on November 17, 2023, in Los Angeles, California.  (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

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“That tells the whole story. And now it’s five years later? Six years later? I’m not sure. And that’s gonna happen? I think it’s indicative of the way the world works now. There’s enough hate in the world where I think that’s totally inappropriate. It’s not what you would teach your kids to do. And then, on a practical level, it hurts us more than it hurts them, because it just pokes the bear and makes him want to stick it to you even harder.” 

San Antonio is 3-13 and have lost 11 consecutive games. 

Fox News’ Scott Thompson contributed to this report.


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