As if the rivalry between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder needed any more fire. Since Kevin Durant bolted from Oklahoma City to join the Golden State Warriors in free agency there has been a strong narrative suggesting that a rivalry exists, and if it doesn’t then it seems the league, fans and media are intent on believing one does.
Nevertheless, this should add fuel to the fire between the two teams.
Ahead of tonight’s game between the Thunder and the Warriors, which will mark only the second time that Durant will step foot in Chesapeake Arena as a visitor and despite being sidelined with a knee injury, he is still dominating the headlines heading into the game.
According to a report from ESPN, the Warriors are angry about how the Thunder handled Durant’s departure from the team and feel that the organization should have done much more than they did, which they believe was nothing special.
“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 the Warriors are upset that Durant wasn’t celebrated as much as they felt he should have been?
Forgive me, but wasn’t the main lingering feeling in the Durant departure was the sheer shock that he bolted Oklahoma City? So, the Warriors, who wooed Durant out of his Thunder jersey and into theirs, are upset that the team that didn’t expect to lose Durant but suffered a severe gut punch when they did hasn’t reacted in applause?
I’m not following.
If Durant is ever to be celebrated in Oklahoma City for his career there, and let’s not rule out that he could one day return to the team, then wouldn’t that happen once he is retired? Once his career is over?
If I’m the Thunder I act in the same manner towards Durant. I’m not giving you a hero’s welcome. I’m not rolling out the red carpet and I’m certainly not hoisting you on my shoulders for a celebratory round of applause.
True, you spent a solid number of years with the team. True, you helped turn the team into playoff contenders. True, we would love to have you back and hope you return.
But I’m not doing anything more than I would do for any other player who bolted in free agency, suddenly, shockingly and without any real indications that you were seriously considering doing just that.
Besides, I’d rather celebrate my current players, mainly Russell Westbrook who is turning in a phenomenal season, an MVP-esque campaign, and has been here for many years too.
Earlier this season, leading up to Durant’s first return to OKC, the Thunder spoke about Durant’s return to OKC since departing in free agency.
“We are very appreciative of Kevin’s contributions during the first eight years of the Thunder,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti told ESPN’s Royce Young. “As we have said, they’re a big reason for the foundation that we stand on today. He, in partnership with many teammates, invested a great deal in helping to build a culture and identity for a franchise in its infancy stages, one whose accomplishments and identity we should all take great pride in representing.
“When Kevin made the decision to leave and move on from Oklahoma and the Thunder, we responded in a manner that is consistent with how the Thunder tries to conduct itself, and I am incredibly proud of the people across our entire organization and the professionalism they have demonstrated. They have embraced Kevin’s past with the Thunder while sensibly and passionately investing in those that stand with us as we continue our work in Oklahoma with an inspired and positive outlook.
“We are fortunate to have people like Russell, Nick, Steven and Billy in place, individuals who care deeply about the Thunder and what it stands for in our community and who are proud of their contributions to date, yet driven and honored to write our next chapter together.”
Is that not enough?
Clearly not up to the standard of the Warriors.
Or maybe this is just trying to make what hasn’t been the volatile feud we had all hoped it would be, into what we want it to be.