The ongoing rivalry between Kevin Durant’s old team and his new team has been one of the dominant storylines of the current NBA season. Durant’s stunning decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors The high point of the rivalry was Durant’s return to Oklahoma City with the Warriors to face off against the Thunder in February.
There was a lot of hype heading into the game and nobody really knew what to expect as Durant himself got extra security before hand. While thankfully nobody went overboard, Durant got a Benedict Arnold style welcome from the folks in Oklahoma City. He was booed every time he touched the ball but it didn’t seem to bother his play too much as the Warriors won 130-114 and scored 34 points.
While the story could have just died then and there, the Durant-OKC dynamic is back in the headlines again thanks to this story from ESPN.com. Apparently the Warriors are bitter that the Thunder didn’t give Durant a hero’s welcome and helped to smooth tensions before the clash.
The Golden State Warriors organization was furious and bewildered about the inactivity from Oklahoma City Thunder leadership leading up to that first Durant return contest on Feb. 11, league sources told ESPN.
Sources say the Warriors were of the mindset that someone from ownership or management should have addressed the media on Durant’s behalf to help ease the tension upon his return.
The feeling is that Durant should have been acknowledged or thanked, in a news conference setting, for his nine years of excellent service.
Seriously? What were the Thunder supposed to do, RETIRE DURANT’S JERSEY BEFORE THE GAME? To have your feelings hurt that the Thunder weren’t nice enough to Durant upon his return to Oklahoma City is ludicrous. One only has to look at how LeBron James was welcomed back to Cleveland in his first game with the Miami Heat to see how this was all going to turn out. Durant left the Thunder, Oklahoma City, and all the fans there with a feeling of emptiness, abandonment, and betrayal. And sure it was Durant’s right to go to Golden State, but it’s also the right of everyone in Oklahoma City to not give him a homecoming parade on his first visit back to town.
Durant left Oklahoma City without a ring, leaving a sense of unfinished business for everyone there and with a sense that their championship window slammed shut. Given OKC is a small-market team, and given the rarity of hitting home runs in the draft with the likes of Harden, Westbrook, and Durant it’s going to be very tough for them to get back to championship contention any time soon.
Additionally, given that the Thunder were up 3-1 against the Warriors last year in the playoffs and couldn’t close the deal AND then Durant went to leave for that very team, it’s going to be a doubly tough pill to swallow for the franchise and its fans.
Durant was a great player for the Thunder and helped to put the franchise on the map. The time will come some day when he will get his just due for everything he did in Oklahoma City. But that day sure isn’t happening anytime soon and definitely isn’t happening this season. Golden State was the big winner in this and the Warriors need to get over themselves and just let it be.
Durant won’t play in the Warriors’ next visit to OKC tonight because of his injury but here’s guessing that the rest of the visitors’ roster won’t get a warm reception either.