Kevin Durant was once the most popular player in Oklahoma City, but today he is likely to get a different response. While Durant’s free agency was not much of a public spectacle, there is never really a good way to leave when you are the face of the franchise.
Durant understands the dilemma and has admitted he does not expect a warm reception. Durant explained to ESPN what he expected in his first game back in Oklahoma City.
“I’m not going in there acting like I’m going to be praised, I know how it’s going to be. 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 told ESPN.
Russell Westbrook was once thought to be one of Durant’s close friends. He has admitted the two have not spoken since Durant bolted for Golden State. While he did not explicitly tell fans to boo Durant, Westbrook did not go out of his way to defend Durant either. He spoke with The Oklahoman on what advice he gives fans for Saturday night.
“It’s up to them what they want to do. Obviously, Kevin’s done a lot for Oklahoma City and our team when he was here, so it’s kind up to them. It doesn’t really matter to me one way or another,” Westbrook told The Oklahoman.
Some expect boos given Durant chose to join the team that the Thunder were one game away from defeating to advance to the NBA Finals. Others expect Durant to be cheered for his contributions during his eight seasons with Oklahoma City.