Despite having been the target of two boo-filled nights at Chesapeake Energy Arena and the recipient of constant criticism throughout the season for joining the Golden State Warriors in the offseason, Kevin Durant is understanding of the fans’ animosity toward him.
The eight-time All-Star spent eight seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder before departing this summer, with his exit leaving a very sour taste in the mouths of OKC faithful.
“If I was a fan of that team and I was in their shoes, I would do the same thing,” Durant told Bill Simmons on The Ringer Podcast Network. “I think at some point in your career, if you’re going to be considered one of the best, you should want to feel loved and hated. And I felt that. I wanted to see what both sides felt like.”
While Durant felt the love of the Bay Area crowd during his first few games with the team and an offseason of support from Golden State, he was also witness to the ire of Thunder fans upon his first game back at his former arena, greeted with dissing signs and cupcake shirts and cardboard cutouts.
His mother, Wanda, took a personal exception to how her son was treated by a team that rose from nothingness to a prominent force in the Western Conference.
“She’s a mom. She doesn’t see it from a fan’s perspective,” Durant said. “She sees it as… I been there so long, I did so much in that community, and for the team and for the organization, and just like a mom should… she thinks that I should be commended for it. Me, on the other hand… me and Rich (Kleiman, Durant’s agent) was telling her, ‘I don’t think you realize what’s coming.’ My mom was like, ‘I want to walk down on the floor.'”
“I’m like, ‘You gotta relax!’ She really thought it was a homecoming.”
The transition from a small market like Oklahoma City to a much larger market like the Bay Area has given the lanky forward a much better sense of what it’s really like to be a superstar in the league, with people often having an opinion or distaste for his actions.
“I was kind of in a professional fantasy world, there was never any kind of hate, he said. “There were no tabloids. I was really living in… a real bubble. I was naive. Then when I left I was kind of shocked… then I would go back and I’m like, I remember this guy in the stands, I used to say what’s up to you every day, every game, and now I turn around and you’ve got a cupcake shirt on.”