Kevin Durant won’t be suiting up for the Golden State Warriors when he makes his second return to Oklahoma City, but the tension between him and the city and organization still lingers.
Or maybe there’s just tension between the Warriors and Thunder.
According to ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes, Golden State wasn’t happy that Oklahoma City failed to roll out the red carpet, or even the bubble wrap, for Durant’s first return:
The Golden State Warriors organization was furious and bewildered about the inactivity from Oklahoma City Thunder leadership leading up to that first Durant return contest on Feb. 11, league sources told ESPN.
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.
The feeling is that Durant should have been acknowledged or thanked, in a news conference setting, for his nine years of excellent service.
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.
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.
So, like, I get this perspective. Durant helped put the Thunder on the map. He was the consummate professional in Oklahoma City. It’s not his fault the Thunder re-made themselves two or three times out of fear for paying the luxury tax. If they never got rid of James Harden in 2012, or if they were more aggressive in paying role players, maybe he’d still be in town.
At the same time, the wounds are still too fresh. The Thunder weren’t relegated to a dark age by Durant’s departure. They still have Russell Westbrook and are contending for a top-five playoff seed. That they didn’t suffer the same fate as the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers is a big deal, and it should make withstanding the blow a little easier.
But, again, Durant just left. That tribute video, that welcome mat, can come later, when both sides have had time to distance themselves for the situation. Fans should certainly be appreciative of what he did, but they have every right to feel betrayed or heartbroken because they lost their best player for nothing.
There’s a time and a place for nostalgia, and while the Thunder shouldn’t be ignorant to everything Durant did for them, he’s in his first year playing for another team, for the team that ended last season’s playoff run. The velvet ropes aren’t coming this soon.