It’s the NBA offseason. A time where rumors whirl around, sparking debates and excitement throughout the basketball world. A recent rumor read that Kevin Durant might look at a possible return to Oklahoma City when he becomes a free agent next summer. Wow.
To think that the 6’9” assassin could return to the city that he so ruthlessly crushed two years ago is unbelievable, and certainly unexpected. But if Durant were to return to the Thunder, would (or should) the fans and organization forgive him, and accept him back?
First, it’s important to recap exactly what went down between Durant and OKC. Durant was drafted by the then Seattle Supersonics (which became the Oklahoma City Thunder the following season), as he developed as a player, and proved himself to be a superstar in the league. KD was able to lead the Thunder to the championship in 2012, but they were nearly swept by LeBron James and the Miami Heat, losing 4-1. He won MVP in 2014, bringing more hope to Oklahoma City for a championship birth. However, in 2016, as Durant entered free agency, he shocked the world by signing with the Golden State Warriors, a team that had gone 73-9 in the previous regular season, and who had beaten the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.
Oklahoma City was furious. There was no excuse for such a weak decision from Durant. Fans began to burn his jerseys and express their anger on social media. All NBA fans were angry, but Thunder supporters took the biggest blow. In Durant’s return to OKC as a Warrior, he was booed every time he touched the ball, and many fans wore t-shirts with a cupcake on them (symbolic of KD’s softness). He was hated by the franchise that once worshipped him.
Fast-forward to the present. After winning back-to-back championships in Golden State, he could return to OKC in the summer of 2019. Does Durant deserve the love and acceptance of OKC? The organization would forgive him in a second. What team wouldn’t want a lethal scorer like Durant? The fans, on the other hand, maybe not so much.
Durant disrespected the city with his decision, and does not deserve to be accepted back. Even if he did return, the vibe would be awkward throughout the season. It isn’t easy to go from hating a player to cheering for them once again. Even when LeBron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers after leaving them for the Miami Heat, it wasn’t difficult for fans to forgive and forget, because it was really a one-man show the first time he was in Cleveland. James was surrounded by players like Drew Gooden III and Anderson Varejao. There were no pieces to help him. Meanwhile, Durant left a walking triple-double in Russell Westbrook, and his team was one game away from going to the Finals the year before.
Perhaps, the only possible way that KD could once again have a strong relationship with OKC if he were to win a championship for them. But even then, it just wouldn’t feel the same. It wouldn’t be an emotional, groundbreaking event like it was with LeBron and the Cavs. The relationship is terminated, and it’s very unlikely that it will ever be recovered.