When the 2016-17 NBA schedule was announced, Thunder fans everywhere frantically searched for one game in particular. The one where Kevin Durant made his return to Oklahoma City.
Many thought there was a possibility of it taking place on opening night.
On Nov. 3, the Warriors logo appears.
“Of course it’s in Oakland.”
Scrolling further the Warriors logo pops up again. This time on Jan. 18.
“(Bleeping) twice? At Golden State twice before they come here?”
Thunder fans had to gloss over 54 games before they found it.
Feb. 11, 2017.
Since then calendars have been marked. Tickets have been bought. It even became a talking point at holiday parties. Chances are you’ve been asked how you would greet Kevin when he made his fateful return. I’d even bet money that the question closely followed “Can you pass the potatoes” at your Christmas dinner.
Even when OU and OSU were set to take on each other in Bedlam, the topic was at the forefront.
“Who do you think is going to win today? Well, I don’t know but at least when this is over we can all go back to rooting against KD.”
No lie, that actually happened. Word for word.
See the funny thing about the NBA schedule is that if Kevin had made his return on opening night, the reception probably would have been mixed. After all, this is the same person who did so much for the state. From the $1 million donation after the May 20, 2013, tornado to the countless donations to local schools to just the overall influence he had on the rise and recognition of Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant’s impact was immensely positive.
But since his departure from the Thunder to Golden State, countless PR moves by the superstar have been made to support his decision. In those moves Kevin not only propped up Golden State but he also delivered subtle jabs at the Thunder.
From inadvertently calling his former teammates selfish which led to one of the best phrases ever to come out of Russell Westbrook’s mouth, to getting into heated exchanges with his former teammates, the relationship between all parties involved seem to be fractured beyond repair.
Now that fans have had to wait 54 games for his return, the animosity is palpable. And Kevin knows it.
Earlier this week, in an interview with ESPN’s Marc Stein, Durant said, “I know they’re going to be rowdy in there, man. I’ve been a part of some of the loudest nights in that arena. So I know it’s not going to be the friendliest welcome, but, like I said, I can’t wait to see the people that I really built relationships with over my time there and, you know, I’m sure fans that I got to know throughout my time playing there, even though they might not cheer for me out loud, I’ll give ’em a wink and they know what we had deep down inside.”
Durant has been in the ‘Peake for the returns of OKC villains like Ron Artest, Patrick Beverly, James Harden and Reggie Jackson. But I doubt he’s been apart of what he’ll experience this weekend. There might be a few cheers, but there is no chance he hears them.
The boo’s will be deafening.
No matter what your opinion of KD is, chances are Saturday you will boo. It’s likely you will boo the whole game. But I’m going to ask you to do something different. Don’t boo. Don’t roll your eyes, yet. Just hear me out.
Kevin not only anticipates the boo’s, but he expects them. He expects it to be ruthless. I not only want fans to boo, but I want you to do it until your vocal chords give out. But I ask that you don’t boo him on one specific instance.
When the player introductions take place and they announce No. 35, I ask you to simply get out of your seat, turn around and stand in silence. While your standing there, think about all the comments about how he wanted to stay with one team for his whole career. Think about him wanting his jersey hanging in the rafters. Think about the 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals last year. Think about the alleged Draymond Green hangouts. Think about the shots at Russell. Think about where you where when you read “My Next Chapter.”
That’s why I ask you to stand and turn around in silence during the introductions.
Turn your back on Kevin just like he did to Oklahoma City.
After the game starts, let the boos rain down.