On Monday, Kevin Durant will return to Oklahoma City for the second time as a member of the Golden State Warriors.
For the second time, more than likely, he will receive a chorus of boos and jeers from a crowd that used to love and support him.
On February 11, the Warriors took down the Thunder at Chesapeake Arena to the tune of 130-114, led by Durant’s 34 points, nine rebounds and three assists over 32 minutes played.
Durant spent the first nine years of his incredible career with the Thunder organization, won an MVP with the team and led them to many playoff appearances. However, he was not recognized in any way by the Oklahoma City franchise during his first game back this year.
According to Chris Haynes of ESPN, that infuriated the Warriors, who were bewildered with the inactivity from OKC’s leadership leading up to the must-see television event.
“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,” Haynes wrote.
He went on, “The Warriors' belief, according to sources, is that the Thunder's silence contributed to the raw emotions, outrage and indignation that created an unsettling, hostile atmosphere for a player many consider to be the franchise's all-time best.”
Further, “The Warriors felt, according to sources, that for a player who meant so much to a city -- a small-market city at that -- a courtesy greeting was in order from top brass, who should have issued their fans a reminder and proper perspective on Durant's role in elevating the Thunder into a perennial championship-contending team.”
Not only wasn’t there a video montage thanking Durant, but there wasn’t even a mention by the P.A. announcer or anyone else during the game.
Talk about some added drama going into their fourth and last matchup of the regular season.
While Durant will be sitting out while he recovers from his knee injury on Monday when the two teams square off again, Haynes made a great point when he noted the following.
“Durant could become the first Thunder player elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Right now, that relationship is fractured, and if it is ever to be repaired, the Thunder would have to make the first move toward reconciliation.”
However, the sting of losing arguably your best player to the team that you lost to in the Western Conference Finals the season before likely will not result in any form of compassion or respect by Thunder fans, who have already anointed Russell Westbrook as the new face of the franchise.