Du­rant still loves Ok­la­homa City

Former Thun­der star in­sists he’s still com­mit­ted to the city he left, even if fans are miffed

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JANIE MCCAULEY OAK­LAND, CALIF. —

As much as it still hurts for so many Ok­la­homans to see Kevin Du­rant shine else­where, the Golden State star re­mains com­mit­ted to the com­mu­nity he called home for nearly a decade. The place where he grew into the bas­ket­ball player he is to­day, and the man he has be­come.

KD de­parted Ok­la­homa City with fan­fare on the 4th of July last year to chase a cham­pi­onship with Stephen Curry and the star-stud­ded War­riors.

So when he goes back Satur­day night for the first time, it will be far from a per­fectly har­mo­nious re­u­nion. And that’s fine with Du­rant. He gets it, he un­der­stands what he meant to a city that so des­per­ately needed the lift he pro­vided.

“I put ev­ery­thing into that place, so it will be great to see some peo­ple that I haven’t seen in a while,” he said. “So I’m look­ing for­ward to that.”

In De­cem­ber, Du­rant do­nated $57,000 to Pos­i­tive To­mor­rows, an Ok­la­homa City el­e­men­tary school for home­less chil­dren that he still cares so much about — and in­sists he al­ways will, wher­ever he is. So far, he has hon­oured that com­mit­ment af­ter pre­vi­ously giv­ing $35,000 to the school through his foun­da­tion.

But did Du­rant have to join the War­riors, of all teams? The fran­chise that some­how ral­lied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Thun­der in a thrilling West­ern Con­fer­ence Fi­nals last June?

Golden State has al­ready beaten Du­rant’s old team hand­ily twice this sea­son — by 47 com­bined points. Du­rant has been bril­liant in those games: 79 points on 28for-40 shoot­ing.

There are cer­tain to be mixed feel­ings when he en­ters Ch­e­sa­peake En­ergy Arena again. So stung were some fans by his de­ci­sion, they burned his No. 35 jersey and turned to call­ing him a coward.

“It’s good to see ev­ery­body, but once the ball’s tipped you’re just play­ing, just hoop­ing. It’s as sim­ple as that,” he said.

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