Kawhi Leonard finally said his public goodbye to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, nearly three weeks after being traded to the Toronto Raptors.
In a statement released on his own website, the small forward thanked the all those that impacted him during his time with the Spurs, including the city, coach Gregg Popovich and his teammates.
“I have been going back and forth the last few weeks trying to figure out the right things to say, and it comes down to two simple words: THANK YOU,” he wrote. “Through all the ups and downs…I’ll never forget what we have shared and accomplished together.”
The statement was Leonard’s first public comments in months, since he left San Antonio while rehabbing a quad injury and stopped communicating with the Spurs organization. Leonard was reportedly unhappy with how the Spurs, and his teammates, handled his decision to get a second opinion on his injury.
As the offseason approached, Leonard demanded a trade from the Spurs, which they granted a few weeks ago by trading him to the Raptors. Although the relationship between Leonard and the Spurs reportedly has not improved, Leonard thanked the Spurs and coach Pop in his statement.
“My family and I want to say THANK YOU to the entire Spurs organization and the people and fans of San Antonio,” Leonard wrote. “THANK YOU Pop I’ll always be grateful for my growth under your guidance.”
Leonard has been with the Spurs for the past eight years, since he was traded from the Indiana Pacers after draft night. In 2014, Leonard was an integral part of the Spurs team that won the championship and was named Finals Most Valuable Player for the series. Leonard was also named NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice, in 2015 and 2016, during his time with the Spurs.
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