Kevin Durant might not be the most popular man in the NBA right now after his move from the Oklahoma City Thunder to Western Conference rivals the Golden State Warriors, but he is certainly feeling the love at the Rio Olympics.
KD was originally booed during Team USA's first exhibition game against China at the Staples Center, but the small forward and 2015 MVP has seemingly won the fans back over with a string of impressive performances.
The 27-year-old weighed in with 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists during the 105-78 quarter-final win over Argentina and he is relishing representing the Stars and Stripes.
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“You look in the stands, and you see everybody that has an American flag on, or red, white and blue. And it’s not about the Warriors or the Raptors or the Clippers or the Knicks, it’s all about Team USA,” Durant told USA today on Thursday.
KD also mentioned how important it is for the nation to feel united in light of what is going on in America at present. A standoff between the African-American community and law enforcement across America has raised tensions to almost record highs, but Durant believes basketball can bring people together.
“To see that, and to feel that unity (at the game) with all that’s going on in our country right now, it was amazing,” said Durant. “Just to hear ‘USA,’ it just shows that we’re the most powerful and greatest country there is, and to see everyone come together no matter (the) race, no matter the background, anything, just to hear that, that’s what I thought about. It was amazing, man. I wish I could’ve taped that moment, but I didn’t have my phone on me.
“The fans just have so much pride, man, and I feel like we can do that (in America). But we’re just so separated, man. It’s sad to see. I just hope at some point, as a nation, that we just start to find it.”
Sport as a whole is a powerful social vehicle and one that cannot be understated. KD is right in many ways, but the social fabric of America probably needs to undergo a serious makeover that basketball simply cannot spark.
But, here's to hoping it can.