As the clock winds down to the Raptors game against the Los Angeles Clippers on December 11, the thing on everybody's mind is the return of Kawhi Leonard. Toronto fans no doubt had this date circled on their calendars since the NBA schedule was released. However, despite a lot of love so far, Kawhi expects he'll here more boos than cheers at Scotiabank Arena.
While speaking with media during a pre-game practice at Scotiabank Arena, the reigning NBA finals MVP said he expects mostly a negative reaction, per TSN.
"I mean, there will be some cheers, but definitely, I think, more boos, because they want to win the game," Kawhi says during the interview.
He added he's ultimately an opposing player, and fans will still be rooting for their hometown squad.
Shortly after TSN posted the video of the interview on social media, though, plenty of Raptors fans made it perfectly clear they felt their former "Fun Guy" was mistaken.
"No boos from me, brother," wrote one Twitter user. "Best sports year I have ever had..."
And that seems to be the running theme among Raptors fans. After all, he did help to bring them a first-ever NBA championship just a few months ago.
Another fan jumped into the conversation by imploring Raptors supporters not to boo Kawhi because he is, in essence, "a national hero."
@TSN_Sports Do not boo this man. He’s a national hero— CALL ME NOW FOR YOUR FREE TAROT READING (@CALL ME NOW FOR YOUR FREE TAROT READING)1576083552.0
Some fans are taking it further, too, by insisting that booing their star player from last season would be something of an embarrassment for the 6ix.
@TSN_Sports If he gets booed Toronto fans don’t deserve another pro championship. The dude didn’t demand a trade an… https://t.co/DqSvUni5hb— Stallion pt. 3 (@Stallion pt. 3)1576085393.0
This is how Scotiabank Arena security should handle any fans that boo Kawhi Leonard when he returns to Toronto...… https://t.co/KC32Y6zyjF— Darrell (@Darrell)1576024575.0
Lifetime ban from Scotiabank Arena for anyone who boos Kawhi https://t.co/NAQcgjUlIq— Brendan Desrosiers (@Brendan Desrosiers)1576088169.0
Anyone that boos Kawhi tonight in Toronto is a whole ass clown.— HTB ♨️ (@HTB ♨️)1576086181.0
Nick Nurse and Kyle Lowry, too, had similar opinions that Kawhi would be getting a hero's welcome.
“I think the fans appreciate him, I think the organization appreciates him, I think what he did as a basketball player in winning a championship, it was great,” Lowry said, as quoted by The Orange Country Register.
The Raptors' coach agrees with his all-star point guard.
“I would imagine that our fans are gonna give him an amazing ovation. If they give him 1/15th of what they gave us on opening night, it’s still gonna be something because it was really amazing the night we got ours," Nurse said, also per The Orange County Register.
The reaction Kawhi will actually receive remains to be seen.
He's already been greeted by a huge media frenzy, though, as he stepped back onto the Scotiabank Arena court for the first time, earlier today.
And, judging by the Raptors' heartwarming tribute to Kawhi, it's gearing up to be one hell of an emotional night.
Kawhi will belatedly receive his championship ring ceremony before tip-off, which is at 7 p.m. tonight.