In Argentina, as well as in most Latin-blooded countries, a sports team has quasi-religious margins. It's something that affects the players too. Some adopt it; others are forced to identify themselves.
Quite different are in the United States. No better or worse. There, from the first fan to the last athlete, they are aware that professionalism involves money and money involving business. But there are problems that can not be negotiated.
For that reason, on the one hand, it was not surprising, but it had an impact: to see Kawhi Leonard, the most valuable player in the final finals Spurs won, being shattered in what was his home, the one who saw him grow up and became a superstar of the NBA. It happened Thursday night when Toronto visited the AT & T Center for the first time in the 125-107 victory.
Why did not he surprise? Because the public anger at Spurs for his former franchise player was long enough. In fact, dissatisfaction began with the earthenware still clothed in black and silver. The first meeting was nothing more than relieving pain, being rescued by the respect that forced the player to continue to represent them.
The discomfort is the result of a Leonard action that raised some suspicions even in Spurs. A tendinopathy in the straight quadriceps complicated the beginning of the 2017/18 season for this boy born in Riverside, California on June 29, 1991. The unfolding of that season was a stretch of the whole situation in a thick smoke of unknown and unknown rumors.
Recovery took more and more, and some details filled him with more force, because Kawhi wanted to treat the disease with a medical team of his choice, marginalizing San Antonio staff. The discomfort was rising, and even the costumes began to lift their voices in public without being thrown naked, but with some photos of the altitude. "We had the same type of accident as Kawhi, but 100 times worse, you have to have a positive attitude," said Tony Parker, the team's symbol. Even Emanuel Ginobili was encouraged to say that he no longer thinks he will return to jurnalism to make them believe otherwise, which at the same time suggested another situation: the lack of communication between the parties.
Old and happy times: Leonard with the trio of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Emanuel Ginóbili, with the 2014 trophy trophy. (Reuters)
And then, the strongest rumors: Leonard, tired of the franchise, wanted to force the situation to demand a transfer. Your dream destination? Los Angeles Lakers, who was about to hire LeBron James. The Texan sat and did not hesitate. Already in the Clarín step by San Antonio in the last playoff, several fans have expressed disappointment with the figure. The feeling was unanimous: "If he no longer wants to play, let him go."
And Kawhi left 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.8 average feeds on the game, plus a ring (2014) and MVP in those finals, two All-Star games and two consecutive NBA defending prizes (2015 and 2016). But not Lakers. He resumed in Toronto, together with Danny Green and Jakob Poeltl and in exchange for DeMar DeRozan and a draft of his choice. In Raptors, he has some of the best numbers in his career, with 27.1 points and 8 rebounds per game.
A Remembrance of the 4th Game of 2014 2014 Miami Heat and Greeting to Manu. (EFE)
He came from the best night of his career against Utah, with his personal record: 45 points. A very different night from the one who waited for him at the AT & T Center, who faced him with his own heating, which intensified disapproval in his first free throws to the cry of the "traitor, traitor" and who rejected it the same way at the end of his match No could not stop the criticism with a triumph. It fell 125-107 in a weak game of the team, which almost never could fight against the result. Leonard completed the form with 21 points, 5 assists and 2 feeds.
"It was probably the kind of reaction we were hoping for," Kawhi said after the game but then expanded the concept: "I was not disappointed with the fact that the media do a good job of getting into people's heads and making them think in a way, how did the media behave, I knew what it would be like tonight. "
And he also noticed he did not even see the franchise reception video: "I did not see him because I never look at the Jumbotron before the games."
Gregg Popovici, far from interfering with the controversy, despite the fact that at the time he left the words at a critical point, commented that he felt "bad" for what had happened. "Kawhi is a great player, we all make decisions with what we will do with our lives and our future and have the same right as any of us," said the coach, who at the end of the game hugged both ex they talked.
Rudy Gay, a former partner, was not so surprised. And it was reflected: "It was that story about" Good, bad and ugly "and one is good after his last game, is not it?