But Leonard's unhappiness and request for a trade stunned the organization.
It's easier to joke about the pending reunion because there was nothing amusing about the breakup.
It was a weird scene all along: Every time Leonard touched the ball or tried a shot in the pre-game layup line he was booed; every time Danny Green, another ex-Spur making a return here did the same, the crowd cheered. Following the matchup in which Leonard struggled and the Spurs were able to come away with a convincing 125-107 victory, Popovich wasn't happy about the reception his former star player received.
Neither side has offered any details on the saga - a stance that continues. You're gonna say whatever you want.
While others went as far as straight-up hoping for DeMar to go full savage mode and have a monster night against Toronto despite their Raptors fandom.
Kawhi Leonard is persona-non-grata in San Antonio these days after forcing his way out via trade this past summer.
"I put up blood, sweat and tears wearing that [Spurs] jersey", Leonard said during Toronto's shootaround at the AT&T Center. "Everybody is anticipating the game".
DeRozan finished the game with 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists, according to ESPN.
The Spurs gave reason for the fans to constantly cheer, leading by as many as 28 points against a Raptors team that has been atop the Eastern Conference for much of the season.
With the win, the Spurs move to 11-3 since December 6 while the Raptors are 7-7 in their last 14 games. "So I felt badly, in all honesty", said Popovich. "We always have in the past, so we'll see". But he did win a title with the Spurs and was the NBA Finals MVP.
The problem is, DeRozan is now with San Antonio. "He's been a great teammate, a great friend to me, he deserves that".
"That man won a championship for y'all and (you) boo him?"
Healing is an emotion DeRozan can understand.
The next confusing, strange, inspiring yet nearly heartbreaking chapter of this saga will be written on February 22nd, when DeRozan returns to Toronto for the first time in a non-Raptors uniform.
Somewhat fittingly, DeRozan accomplished the feat against his former team, the Toronto Raptors.
"I got great shooters around me", DeRozan told the National Basketball Association on TNT during his postgame interview.
"Emotional? I don't know, I never experienced an emotional game", DeRozan said.
That's his right and he does not need to look back, but don't expect fans not to feel a bit jilted.
"While I'm sure it wasn't easy for Kawhi or anyone, we wish him well with the future of his career". Things like that will only get me better for the long run. "That's what I'm looking forward to". "I wasn't on the end kind of how (DeRozan's trade) went down".