Kevin Durant returned to Oklahoma City on Saturday night after ripping out the city’s heart by jumping ship to join the Golden State Warriors. He ripped it out again, this time holding the still-beating organ to the crowd like an Indiana Jones villain.
And good for him.
A night that deserved to be a celebration of all Durant’s done for the area was instead a public therapy session as scorned fans worked out their issues with catcalls, boos and, yes, cupcakes. While the vocal detractors do not speak for all Thunder supporters, it’s impossible to get past the vitriol and complete lack of self-awareness. The session was unproductive and, if anything, the masses left feeling worse.
Those who forget history are doomed to wake up groggy, with egg caked to their face. And it’s tough to conjure up bucketfuls of sympathy for a fanbase that was only granted witness to Durant’s greatness because it fell in their lap after the SuperSonics fled Seattle. It’s tough to have a soft spot in one’s heart for legions of hearts turned cold by pure selfishness.
All Durant did for Oklahoma City was to put it on the basketball map with eight seasons of excellence in which he led the league in scoring four times, won an MVP and piloted the Thunder into the Western Confernce Finals four times and the NBA Finals once.
He inspired civic pride, which is tough to quantify. Easier, though, is the $1 million he donated on tornado relief aid in 2013. He comported himself as a good teammate, citizen and role model.
It’s painful to see fans take a value-based stand against Durant for abandoning his team and not being constrained by some nebulous sense of loyalty. Hatred toward him seems to be based on some sort of moral code, while conveniently forgetting the stand-up character he exemplified for nearly a decade.
Durant stood taller than his 6-foot-9 listing on Saturday night. He held his head high for good reason. Oklahoma City fans and players, including human agitator Russell Westbrook did the exact opposite. Constant chirping in the face of 20-plus-point deficits tends to ring hollow.
If there was any lingering doubt rattling around in Durant’s soul regarding his decision, it completely vanished during the blowout. Thunder fans never really loved him. They loved what he could do for them. Staying put to satisfy fickle fanbases is antiquated.
Durant wants a championship and, hell, he will probably get one this year. He found a new adoring suitor and is enjoying the spoils of victory. OKC is just a town in the rearview mirror.
He’s moved on. Time for the Thunder to do the same.