Like most San Antonio Spurs fans, when news came out on NBA Draft night 2011 the team was trading fan favorite George Hill for Kawhi Leonard, an unproven player, it did not go over very well.
Hill brought excitement, defense, scoring to the team and was not afraid to get in the face of Kobe Bryant. Leonard, on the other hand, was unproven and a relative unknown. He had big hands and that was all most knew of him.
But it seems that it wasn't just Spurs fans who did not like to see Hill be traded for Leonard. Manu Ginobili also did not like the trade and admits, it made him "angry."
When he came to the Spurs, I got really angry because enjoyed playing with George Hill. I was frustrated that they had traded him for a rookie (Kawhi Leonard). But I did not know who he was. Since his first year, despite the lockout, he showed some things. One glimpsed at his potential. But in the second half of last season, it was crazy. Truly take your hat off. The guy can play, deserves to have the ball in his hand and earned our respect. If you ask him, he will even say Pop's going to say I was surprised.
Kawhi had a breakout season with San Antonio in just his second year. He averaged 11.9 points and 6 rebounds in 31 minutes in the 2012-13 season and has slowly become a main cog in the Spurs' system. Many consider him part of the Spurs "Big 3" or the plus-1.
This new season, the Spurs will continue to rely on him to carry more of the load and slowly become the franchise player (along with Tony Parker) of the future once Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili sail off in the sunset.
As for Manu not happy with the trade initially, it might be safe to say that he and Spurs fans across the globe have liked the trade since.