The date was circled over and over again when the NBA schedule came out, February 11th will be the day Kevin Durant returns to Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder players have already played Durant and the Warriors twice in Oakland so the shock and disappointment is long gone for the them -- or at least it should be.
By now, Oklahoma City Thunder fans have probably watched Durant play a few times in a Warriors uniform and probably cheered when the Spurs knocked off the Warriors in Oakland on opening night. I'll admit it was tough to see Kevin warm up at Oracle Arena last November when the Thunder matched up against the Warriors for the first time this season. The return trip to Oakland last month was much easier. It seemed easier for Kevin too, watching him say hello to Thunder Assistant Maurice Cheeks, Thunder TV Broadcaster Brian Davis and his good friend and Thunder assistant Royal Ivey at different times before tipoff. I didn't see any such hello's in the first meeting, but then again I wasn't in sight of Durant every minute leading up to game time.
I fully expect boos to echo throughout Chesapeake Energy Arena when Kevin is introduced before the game starts. I wonder if he will be announced first, in the middle or last? The paying fans have a right to do what they want: bring in posters, shout chants, you name it, I just hope they don't go overboard with it. Sure there will be some cheers too, Kevin did a lot for the Thunder organization and in return the organization did a lot for him during his tenure. The biggest complaint will always remain, why not sign up for one more year last summer with the Thunder and give it another shot since the team was one victory away from reaching the NBA Finals. If you don't win, I think the fans would've been more understanding if he wanted to exit town. Instead he picked the organization that just defeated him, and in the process strengthened them and weakened the franchise that raised him. A tough choice to make and he made it a basketball decision.
I would imagine Kevin's initial warm up at Chesapeake will be with his headphones on and hoodie up over his head to drown out any potential distractions. Seeing him on television in another uniform is one thing, but to see him in person in a Warriors uniform should bring him some bad emotions for the Thunder fans. A win over the Cavs and the Warriors in back-to-back home games? Anything is possible after watching them beat the Cavs Thursday night. I fully expect Oklahoma City to match the Warriors intensity and the home crowd will be a difference maker.