NEW YORK - Understated superstar Kawhi Leonard penned a farewell letter to San Antonio, thanking Spurs fans for their support as he starts anew as a member of the Toronto Raptors.
Leonard broke his months-long silence in a letter penned for the San Antonio Express-News and thanked coach Gregg Popovich, the Spurs’ organization and the city’s fans.
Leonard wrote, “San Antonio, 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!
“My family and I want to say THANK YOU to the entire Spurs organization and the people and fans of San Antonio. THANK YOU to every one of my teammates I’ve played with over my seven years in the NBA. THANK YOU Pop I’ll always be grateful for my growth under your guidance. THANK YOU to the fans!
“There is not a more passionate or dedicated fan base than what I’ve witnessed in San Antonio. Through all the ups and downs — I’m glad there were many more ups! — I’ll never forget what we have shared and accomplished together.
“While I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my career, I’ll always remember the city and the people of San Antonio! THANK YOU! — Kawhi Leonard.”
Leonard last played for the Spurs on Jan. 13. He was medically cleared but uncomfortable on the court. A division between Leonard, his trainers and the Spurs and their medical personnel was created by Leonard working out in Manhattan and cutting off communication with Popovich.
The Spurs traded Leonard in July after a face-to-face meeting with Popovich that took place in California. San Antonio received All-Star forward DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltel and a 2019 protected first-round pick for Leonard and Danny Green.
Leonard has not made a long-term commitment to the Raptors and is expected to be a target of the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency next summer.