Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant made his first return to the Bay Area to play the Golden State Warriors in front of fans since leaving the franchise in 2019, receiving a tribute video and standing ovation before Tuesday’s game. Here’s what you need to know:
- Durant, who has played with the Brooklyn Nets and Suns since leaving the Warriors, hasn’t played in front of fans in the Bay Area due to injury and COVID-19 restrictions.
- In March, Golden State coach Steve Kerr said the franchise has “always kind of anticipated his return, and we’ve always had a planned ‘welcome back’ video to thank him for everything he did for this franchise, and then literally every game, something comes up.”
- The Warriors’ tribute video came before tipoff and was met with mostly cheers from the Chase Center crowd.
Tribute video and ovation for Kevin Durant pic.twitter.com/jdw3lgC8pS
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 25, 2023
How was the reception?
Welcoming and genuine. Durant’s time with the Warriors is respected locally. Two titles in three seasons and it might’ve been three for three had he not torn his Achilles attempting to play through a calf injury in the 2019 NBA Finals.
Time has probably tamed what would’ve been a more electric and emotional scene. It’s been more than four years since he left. Durant has already escaped a rocky tenure in Brooklyn and the Warriors have gone through several strange seasons and an extra championship since the breakup.
His time in the Bay Area feels so long ago. But he’s considered a franchise legend. Joe Lacob has already said they will retire his No. 35 jersey. — Anthony Slater, Warriors writer
(Photo: Jed Jacobsohn / NBAE via Getty Images)