In 20 years when we finally get the behind-the-scenes documentary about the 2018-19 Golden State Warriors, it could put “The Last Dance,” to shame in terms of pure drama — maybe even “The Real Housewives.” As the Warriors attempted to become the fourth NBA franchise to win three consecutive championships, the season was shrouded with Kevin Durant’s impending potential free agency, amplified by an on-court shouting match with Draymond Green and Durant’s reported frustration with Golden State fans’ perceived preference for Stephen Curry.
And, of course, it all concluded with Durant tearing his Achilles tendon and Klay Thompson tearing his ACL during their Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors, followed by Durant electing to join the Brooklyn Nets, potentially signaling the finality of the Warriors’ five-year run of dominance. If this was a Hollywood script, it would be turned down as too unrealistic.
So it makes sense that the league would pit Durant and his Brooklyn Nets against the Warriors in the first game of the 2020-21 season on Tuesday, which will be Durant’s first appearance in a game that counts since being helped off the court in June of 2019. For what it’s worth, however, Durant downplayed the matchup on his podcast, “The ETCs with Kevin Durant” on Thursday (h/t Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area).
“There’s no narrative at all. It’s just a regular basketball game,” Durant said. “I don’t care too much about that drama that comes with that former team, you know, all that stuff. I’ve been through that with OKC, so I’m not trying to do that with Golden State. I love everybody there. It’s just another game.”
Durant makes reference to his first road game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the franchise where he spent the first nine years of his career before joining the Golden State Warriors, who were coming off of an NBA-record 73-win season. That certainly was not just a regular basketball game, as Durant was booed mercilessly and greeted with signs calling him a “cupcake” and a “sellout.”
Tuesday’s game against the Warriors will have a much different vibe for a few reasons. First, it’s in Brooklyn and there won’t be any fans in the stands, so there’s not even a possibility of a traveling horde of Warriors fans vocally disparaging their former star. Second, an entire season and a global pandemic have taken place since Durant left the Warriors, making any wounds much less fresh. And third, Durant, Green and Curry have all said that there’s absolutely no ill will remaining between them. In fact Green seems more concerned with playing on his son’s birthday than playing against Durant. Last February, Curry and Durant were both in street clothes as the Warriors met the Nets in Brooklyn, and the two shared some words and a hearty embrace after the game.
If anything, playing against the Warriors might help Durant as takes the first step in reclaiming his place as one of the world’s best basketball players. He’s itching to get back in action, and he says playing against his former franchise will only add to the anticipation.
“I’m excited about playing,” Durant said. “To play some familiar faces is definitely going to be cool that first go-round. Being away from the game for so long, I’m looking forward to it.”
Courtesy: CBS Sports