The Brooklyn Nets schedule allows for Kevin Durant to get to play both of his former teams in back-to-back games. To start things out, Durant and James Harden traveled to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder for the first time together since they left the franchise that drafted them. The two played side by side in OKC from 2009-2012 before Harden was traded to Houston prior to the start of the 2012-13 season.
Durant and Harden had zero indication that they’d later team up in New York City nearly a decade later. KD remained with the Thunder through the 2015-16 season, but changed the course of NBA history after he signed with the Golden State Warriors in free agency.
Durant did all that he could for a team that hadn’t been able to make it to the Finals since Harden’s last season in Oklahoma. If you ask Thunder fans about Durant, they’re likely to refer back to his “betrayal” rather than his 2014 MVP award and four scoring titles with the franchise.
Still, Durant admires the time he spent playing for Oklahoma City and it was nice for him and Harden to get to team up again in Paycom Center. In a sad turn of events, though, OKC fans didn’t quite give either player a warm reception in their homecoming.
Kevin Durant and James Harden receive harsh welcome back to OKC.
They booed both Durant and Harden, which doesn’t really make sense. Durant left the team after it was clear there was no path to taking down the Warriors, whereas Harden was traded. OK, fine. Booing Durant makes some sense. But Harden? What are they mad for? That he’s teamed up with KD again?
The nine seasons that Durant spent in Oklahoma were his formative years. He’s now (and all-time) one of the best players in the NBA. Through Brooklyn’s first 14 games of the season, he’s averaging a league-high 29.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. His name is at the top of the MVP conversation.
Harden hasn’t experienced nearly as much success this season, but is climbing his way up the ladder after rehabbing his hamstring injury during the offseason.
And how did Durant feel about playing alongside Harden once again in OKC?
"“It’s crazy how stuff happens. You never thought when James got traded — I didn’t know what the future would hold. For us to come back around on the same team as we got older is pretty sweet … We helped build this thing. It’s good to come in here and see what it is today.”"
Couldn’t we make the argument that Durant should’ve booed the Thunder for trading Harden, who would’ve been a key piece in holding off the Warriors’ dynasty?
What matters is that the Nets beat the Thunder, 120-96. Durant led all scorers with 33 points and shot 9-of-17 from the field. He threw in eight rebounds and four assists, too. Harden had a double-double with 16 points and 13 assists. Though he went just 5-of-13 from the field, he impacted the game on his once-home court by facilitating the offense.
It’s tough to swallow the fact that two high-caliber players were once running the show in OKC but are now elsewhere. That’s a duo that I wouldn’t be happy about losing either … but if the team would’ve kept Harden, who knows if the trio (including Russell Westbrook) would’ve been able to win a title together. In that case, would Durant have ever left the Thunder for the Warriors?
It seems as if the blame is being misdirected at Durant and Harden. What else is new when it comes to fandom, though?