11 People who turned their backs on the Celtics

These players, coaches and other figures all turned their back on the Celtics in one way or another.
Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics
Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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Kawhi Leonard

All four inclusions on the list have been relatively obvious and/or recent selections. But Kawhi Leonard is a name some Celtics fans may actually be surprised to see here. After all, he never played for Boston and has spent the vast majority of his career in the Western Conference.

The only season where Kawhi played in the East was in 2018-19, when he helped the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship in franchise history. Many thought the Celtics and Raptors would face off in the conference finals that year, but Boston never actually made it there to challenge Leonard and Toronto.

To understand how Leonard turned his back on the Celtics, we have to go back to before that season started. In the summer of 2018, Kawhi had grown disgruntled with San Antonio Spurs management over their handling of his quad injury, and he was angling toward a change in scenery.

Many suspected he was hoping to make it to Southern California to play for either the Lakers or the Clippers in his hometown of Los Angeles, but there were other potential suitors for him as well. However, Boston was reportedly not on the list.

NBA insider Shams Charania noted that Kawhi did not have any interest in joining the Celtics during his offseason saga in 2018. Celtics fans could probably forgive Leonard for not ultimately choosing their team, but for him to be utterly disinterested? That's a low blow.