Shootaround (Feb. 12): Kevin Durant navigates raoucous return to Oklahoma City
No. 1: KD back to OKC? More A-OK than S.O.S. — “Primal scream therapy” was what our man Fran Blinebury labeled it, and he was spot on his report on Kevin Durant’s return to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder Saturday night. The only thing missing from the highly anticipated, heavily chronicled evening was a game that actually was close, but that didn’t undermine the sideshow atmosphere. From the boos and cheers of the fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena who felt jilted when Durant signed with Golden State as a free agent last summer to the “cupcake” imagery hurled at Durant but eventually co-opted by some Warriors teammates, Blinebury was on hand for it all:
The fans came early and full-throated and got in their digs at every opportunity. They said he was weak and that he was a traitor. They shouted that he was a choker in big games and that he betrayed what they believed was the loyalty they should have earned from him over the previous eight seasons.
Of course, citizens of Oklahoma City never seem to share that compassion for the good folks of Seattle, whose team and star player they did steal away after Durant’s rookie season. But that’s a story for another night
This was a tale of cupcakes that had been baking since Durant made his decision to leave way back on the Fourth of July. That is when former running mate Russell Westbrook responded to the news by tweeting a photo of several plates full of the little delectables.
The background is that when Kendrick Perkins used to play in OKC, he often called anyone that he perceived as being soft “a cupcake.” Durant and Westbrook embraced that label and did carry on the tradition.
So there were hand-drawn signs and cut-out photos of cupcakes in virtually every section of Chesapeake Energy Arena. One young girl made her way through the aisles dressed up as a cupcake with legs.
“Cupcake! Cupcake! Cupcake!” they derisively chanted at Durant all throughout the game.
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No. 2: Mom says ‘whoa,’ steakhouse says ‘no’ — Forty-eight minutes of basketball, even with the cacophonous pregame warm-ups and snarky postgame interviews attached, wasn’t going to be able to contain everything that happened at and around Durant’s return game. Wanda Durant, the All-Star player’s mother, told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com that she didn’t appreciate all the vitriol being heaped on her son by the OKC fans. Then it was Royce Young of the same Web site talking to the proprietor of one of that city’s trendiest restaurants for the story of Golden State’s attempted postgame takeover. First, here’s Mrs. Durant’s take on the evening:
Kevin Durant’s mother said she was deeply hurt by the treatment she and her son received in his return to the city he played his first eight seasons with Saturday night.
“The most vicious things you could say, they said about my son tonight. It’s hurtful,” Wanda Durant told ESPN after the Golden State Warriors 130-114 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“We poured our heart into this place. Not just him. Our family. This is basketball. This is not whether or not you’re going to make it into heaven.”
Wanda Durant sat in the stands behind the Warriors bench for the game. She said several fans approached her and said obscene things about her son, to her.
“They called him a snake, a sellout, a b—-h,” she said. “It’s just a sad day. I understand that they loved him. I do understand it. But the name calling. The people with the cupcakes on their backs … It didn’t have to be like this.”
After the game, she had tears in her eyes after hugging her son outside the Warriors locker room.
“This is not the first time I’ve been back since Kevin left,” she said. “This is maybe my fourth or fifth time. Every time that I’ve been back, people seem like they are afraid to say something nice to me. People will whisper, “There’s his mom. Ooooooh!”
There are people who tell me they still love him. But then you have the people who shot his jersey up. My son poured his heart and soul into this place for eight years and for them to treat him like this because he decided to go someplace else to play is really tough.”
Later it was Dave Osborn of the Mahogany Prime Steakhouse explaining why the restaurant declined the Warriors’ request to book the entire joint for a postgame dinner, with the Thunder players and OKC residents in mind:
Kevin Durant and several members of the Golden State Warriors had dinner at the Oklahoma City restaurant whose manager said he’d turned down a request from Durant’s representatives to rent it out following the team’s win Saturday night over the Thunder.
Russell Westbrook was also dinning at the Popular Oklahoma City restaurant Mahogany Prime Steakhouse on Saturday night, but was seated in a different area. He didn’t interact with Durant.
The restaurant had originally turned down a request to rent out the entire place, according to proprietor Dave Osborn
Osborn, who oversees Mahogany’s downtown location, said Durant’s reps called “three or four weeks ago” to rent out the restaurant for the Warriors organization after the game.
According to Osborn, the haul would have been between $30,000 to $35,000.
“I thought about it but I said, no I can’t do that, because I have Thunder players that come in after games,” Osborn said. “Thunder players come in, fans come in, so I just said, ‘I can’t do that to them.’ It wouldn’t be fair.
Mahogany is one of Westbrook’s favorite postgame spots in Oklahoma City.
“He comes in a lot after home games and he’s got his own room, and it’s always open,” Osborn said. “And I’ve told him that: This room is always open after every single home game.”