OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kevin Durant understood the noise, the jeering and booing. Upon his return to Oklahoma City on Saturday night, the man who put the place on the professional sports map accepted the T-shirts and signs that mocked him.
Durant actually had a bit of fun with the most widespread derision, chants and signs and T-shirts inside Chesapeake Energy Arena referring to him as a “cupcake.”
“I’ve been called worse in my life,” Durant said. “I’ve been counted out before I was even born. Ain’t nothing new.”
In what may be alluded to, in the months and maybe years to come, as the “Cupcake Game,” Durant and the Warriors iced the Thunder with a 130-114 victory.
The first two Warriors to walk out of the locker room and into the crush of media were Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Both were wearing white T-shirts with orange-frosted cupcakes topped with a blue cherry.
Orange and blue, not coincidentally, are the Thunder team colors.
“It’s a good shirt, man,” Curry said with a trace of a smile.
“I was blessed with a T-shirt,” Green said. “I want to support. Cupcake. That’s all.”
Neither Curry nor Green winked. There was no need. This was their way of giving it back to the more boisterous OKC fans, those that spent the evening trying to drown Durant in a downpour of boos.
They failed. Miserably. Durant scored 34 points on 57.1-percent shooting.
“He was great,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “What a weird position to be in. I don't think any of us can even imagine what he was thinking out there, the emotions going through his body and his mind. It’s kind of a strange event. You have people you know love you deep down, but they're screaming and yelling and calling you names. That's kind of a weird feeling, but he handled it beautifully and played a great game."
Durant clearly was delighted to get past this. After two weeks of hype, with the past five days cranking into overdrive.
“Basketball is fun in general, especially when you’re playing in an environment like this,” he said. “The crowd was amazing tonight. They were as loud as I’ve ever heard them here. It’s part of the game.”
This is what happens when the king of the city, as Durant was, makes his first trip back and happens to be wearing enemy colors.
“You plan for the worst,” Durant had said prior to tipoff. “Obviously, I know how it is. I know what the fans are about, especially here. So, just try not to think about it. Just go out there and play. Once the ball is tipped up, just go play the game.”
Durant had faced the Thunder twice this season, both times in Oracle Arena, scoring 39 points in the first game, on Nov. 3, and a season-high 40 on Jan. 18. This, however, was dramatically different.
Asked about the T-shirts worn by Curry and Green, Durant claimed to be unaware. Maybe he was, maybe not.
“They had that on? They did?” he said. “That’s pretty cool I guess.”
Durant was grinning as he responded, perhaps because no victory has been as savory.