When Kevin Durant returns to Oklahoma City for a game against his former team tomorrow night, emotions will be running very high. The Golden State Warriors will come into OKC to face a Thunder team being led by Russell Westbrook who was Durant’s running mate for eight seasons.
Kevin Durant left OKC this past summer during free agency in a stunning move that sent shockwaves throughout the entire NBA. Durant joined the machine that is the Golden State Warriors to form a superteam unlike any the league has ever seen. The last time Durant played for the Thunder franchise was last year against the Warriors in the Western Conference finals. OKC choked away a 3-1 lead on the Warriors and lost in seven games.
Many basketball minds speculate that Durant was the reason for the Thunder losing the series because he didn’t play aggressive enough until it was too late. To add fuel to the fire, Durant ended up signing with the same team that just beat him in series that OKC should’ve won.
Russell Westbrook, someone that Durant called his “brother,” didn’t even find out about Durant’s decision to leave until Durant announced it publicly in an article on the Players’ Tribune. Westbrook wasn’t even afforded a phone call from his former teammate. The way that Durant left the OKC Thunder left a bitter taste in Westbrook’s mouth and now there is an apparent feud between the two. Westbrook signed an extension with OKC shortly after Durant departed, proving to the fans in Oklahoma that he was ready to stay with the team for the long haul.
The last time Durant played for the Thunder franchise was last year against the Warriors in the Western Conference finals. OKC choked away a 3-1 lead on the Warriors and lost in seven games. Many basketball minds speculate that Durant was the reason for the Thunder losing the series because he didn’t play aggressive enough until it was too late.
Tomorrow’s game is going to be an epic showdown of two teams trying to claim supremacy in the highly competitive NBA Western Conference. The Golden State Warriors have the best record in the league at 44-8 and are looking to avenge last year’s finals meltdown when they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games after leading the series 3-1.
The Thunder, on the other hand, have a respectable 31-23 record with Russell Westbrook putting up monster numbers on what could end up being an MVP season for the fiery, athletic point guard. The Warriors won the first meeting in Oakland by a score of 121-100 with Kevin Durant dropping 40 points on his former team. The tables will be turned this time around because the Thunder will have the home court advantage and the fans will be sure to let Kevin Durant know of their displeasure with him leaving.
Kevin Durant had an interview with Bill Simmons on his podcast and had this to say about returning to OKC, “I wouldn’t be human if I sat here and just acted like I’m this super tough Teflon, like nothing gets to me, man. That’s what NBA players got to stop doing, man. You’re not that tough. You’re human at the end of the day. Your ego is that big for you to feel like you’re not human? I understand there’s going to be emotion in me. It’s going to be emotional seeing those people, it’s going to be emotional walking to another locker room when I used to walk past it every game. I’ve never been in the opposing locker room. So I walk in there as another player? I’ve walked past it so many times, it’s going to be weird.”
One thing that’s for sure is that the game tomorrow is definitely going to be full of excitement and it’s going to be interesting to see the fans’ reaction to Kevin Durant returning in a Golden State uniform. It’s similar to the LeBron situation when he left Cleveland for Miami except LeBron didn’t join the team he just lost to in the playoffs. Some say that Durant is just “chasing rings” but nothing is guaranteed in the NBA, especially if MVP candidate and former buddy Westbrook has anything to say about it.
Russell Westbrook already made it clear that he doesn’t care how the fans react when Kevin Durant returns to face his former team. Many are expecting the Oklahoma City Thunder fans to greet Durant with a chorus of boos. It’s clear that Westbrook hasn’t forgiven him for the way their partnership ended and the OKC Thunder fans have also voiced their strong disapproval of Durant’s decision to leave them for the Golden State Warriors.
[Featured Image by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]