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Monday Bolts – 2.13.17

Monday Bolts – 2.13.17

Marc Spears of The Undefeated: “Thunder fans should never stop booing any star from

another team scoring at will against their own beloved squad. Durant expects the same to be the case when he returns with the Warriors in March. Booing an opposing team’s superstar is often a sign of respect. But Thunder fans need to let the anger go. Durant is as notable to Oklahoma sports history as Mickey Mantle and Jim Thorpe are. The Thunder will want him to participate in their 10-year anniversary of making it to the NBA Finals in 2022. At some point the team will want to retire Durant’s No. 35 jersey. And Thunder fans would certainly love for him to say nice things about the franchise and his time in Oklahoma City when he becomes a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer. Who knows? He might want to end his career there if on good terms.”

Chris Mannix of The Vertical: “Durant would like you to believe it’s just basketball, but for Westbrook, for Oklahoma City, it’s so much more. They feel betrayed, cut not only by Durant’s decision to leave, but by the team he went to. There has been no communication between Durant and Westbrook since Durant departed, and there likely won’t be anytime soon. The cupcake cutouts that sprinkled the arena and the T-shirts with the same image — several of which were grabbed by Golden State players after the game — were born from a Westbrook Instagram post. The story, first reported by Sports Illustrated, goes that ex-Thunder center Kendrick Perkins called soft players “cupcakes.” So there was Westbrook, Fourth of July weekend, hours after Durant announced his decision, posting a picture of holiday-themed cupcakes on his account.”

Here’s what I wrote.

Berry Tramel: “On Durant’s much-anticipated return to the ‘Peake, Durant seemed slightly shaken at his new status in OKC. A stranger in a strange land. Durant missed six of his first eight shots, and with five minutes left in the second quarter, the Thunder had outscored the Warriors by two points with Durant on the court but trailed 45-30 on the scoreboard. But that’s the tragedy of Durant’s exodus to the Golden Gate. He’s not all that needed. The Warriors were great before he got there. And they were great without Durant on Saturday night.”

The Pioneer Woman: “We got to the arena and because of where we parked, we wound up at a quieter, less crowded entrance…and just before we reached the door, the four boys started whispering with excitement “There’s K.D.’s mom!!! There’s K.D.’s mom!!!” And sure enough, standing with a friend near the door was Kevin Durant’s tall, beautiful, loving, and very devoted mother. She has been such a present, presiding force in the career of her son that my boys recognized her instantly. “Can we go take a selfie with her??? Can we go say hi???” Todd begged. “No, don’t bother her…” I said, but his excitement was too great. Before I knew it he had run over to Ms. Durant, introduced himself, and asked if she wouldn’t mind taking a selfie with him. And then—this is the part I loved: She said yes, but then she paused and I heard her say “Now, if you’re gonna boo my baby, I’m not going to take a selfie with you.” She was sweet. But she also wasn’t kidding. “I won’t, ma’am,” Todd answered. “I promise.” He wasn’t kidding either.”

Doc Rivers has All-Star advice for Steve Kerr.

Chris Haynes of ESPN.com: “On sheer talent alone, Durant’s union with Westbrook instantly catapulted the Thunder to being one of the league’s best teams. But when going against a team with supreme talent and discipline, they were overmatched. Durant desired continuity and teammates willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team. After nine seasons with the franchise, he wasn’t convinced that would ever occur. Durant and Westbrook were never the best of friends. They were good teammates, similar to good neighbors. It seemed Westbrook wanted the numbers; Durant wanted the wins.”

Jenni Carlson: “So, yes, there were cheers as Durant came out of the Colcord wearing big white headphones, a black cardigan over a black-and-white plaid shirt and ripped jeans. Many came from the Warriors fans there, but some were from the Thunder fans, too. But as Durant walked over to fans and started signing shirts and jerseys and cards — yes, Tyler and Xavier got their shoes and basketball autographed — most people were quiet. They watched. They processed. Someone broke the relative silence, hollering, “Welcome back, man! Welcome back, KD!” But the fans there knew the reality — he was back in town, but he wasn’t really back. Maybe some day. Probably never. But certainly not Saturday.”

Rob Mahoney of SI.com: “The anticipation began last July, in the exact moment Durant announced he would sign with the Warriors. It reached a fever pitch not with a climactic run or a game for the ages, but in heated, flashbulb exchanges. Even as Golden State’s lead hovered around 20, Russell Westbrook gave a voice to a collective rage in chattering back and forth with Durant. Andre Roberson literally went head to head with Durant after his own foul, all the better to feed the fervor. Fans in attendance responded with their loudest chant of the night. CUP-CAKE. CUP-CAKE. A baked good became a rallying cry, not so subtly digging at the superstar forward who left a great team to join an even better one. Westbrook himself is to blame.”