Kevin Durant will feel love, appreciation of Warriors fans eventually

Kevin Durant will feel love, appreciation of Warriors fans eventually

When the Brooklyn Nets make their first appearance at the Chase Center, let’s hope it’s on Christmas Day not only for the theater, but also because by then Kevin Durant might be traveling and, moreover, comfortable with a 360-degree spin.

That would allow Durant, who will be six months into a post-surgery recovery/rehabilitation for his right Achilles’ tendon, to fully bask in the glow of Bay Area love and appreciation sure to wash over him at a level higher than at any time during his three seasons as a Warrior.

And it’s going to come, for Durant’s official departure on Sunday was not met with the burning of jerseys or profane outbursts, as was the case in July 2016 in Oklahoma City. That’s not how we do things around here, and it’s not the general response to his decision to move on.

KD can expect a voluminous roar and standing ovation lasting a minute or more, leaving him with a bigger grin than he flashed at any time in his third and final season in the Bay Area.

Rather than the warm welcome KD received in his Warriors debut and the liberal doses of respect and admiration coming his way at Oracle Arena, this will be a display of love and appreciation.

Don’t think Durant didn’t care about that. Or that it wouldn’t have touched him. It most assuredly will -- and would have even more had it come his way as a Warrior.

Last season, Durant never conveyed more delight than a few days before the Warriors would go to Seattle for a preseason game against the Kings on Oct. 5. Drafted into the NBA second overall by the SuperSonics in 2007, KD was giddy about returning to his first professional home. A few days before the trip, he spent nearly a half hour reminiscing about his rookie season, joy frolicking across his face as he talked about his first year, the beauty of the Seattle area and the passion of a fan base that adored its team -- and immediately adopted him.

“It was indescribable man,” Durant told us. “I can’t put into words the energy of the building and the amount of love. The support that was in the building was incredible.”

That night at KeyArena, Durant was introduced to wall-rattling cheers that reached a crescendo when he pulled off his Warriors warmup jacket to reveal a throwback jersey with the name of former Sonics great Shawn Kemp. After addressing a crowd practically eating from his hand, Durant went out and dominated the game.

More to the point, he dominated the night. His postgame session was all happy eyes and shiny teeth.

“I feel like everything was about me,” Durant said. “It was definitely weird. It’s only cool for tonight; I wouldn’t want that any other night. But it was definitely weird. It took me a while to refocus and focus on trying to get better and realizing that this was just a preseason game. Everybody was pumped up.”

No one on the court was more “pumped up” for this exhibition than Durant, who spoke of how good it was to reunite, if only briefly, with Seattle superfan Lorin “Big Lo” Sandretzky, who often met the Sonics at the airport when the team returned from road trips.

“It was so good to see him and give him a hug,” Durant said of Sandretzky. “He told me he missed me, and he loved me and that I’m one of the greatest ever. And I’m like, ‘Man, that’s how I feel about you.’”

Rarely and only fleetingly over the next eight months did KD convey such warmth of spirit. As productive as he was, and as much as his supported teammates as needed, his allegiance to the organization was professional but rarely enthusiastic.

Durant likely realized something before the season that was reinforced during it: No matter what he did, the passion coming his way would never reach the white-hot intensity of that directed toward Steph Curry. It’s natural, of course, given Steph’s status as the first and most essential pillar to what the Warriors had built.

Though two championships in two seasons -- being voted MVP of The Finals both times -- was enough for locals to express their respect and admiration for Durant’s feats, it did not lead to spine-tingling love and appreciation that might have convinced KD he had forged a deep and enduring connection with The Bay.

On the love and affection scale, both Seattle and OKC brought it stronger than The Bay – as might Brooklyn, still in the nascent stage of becoming a contender.

The Warriors realized back in October -- some say even before then -- that there was little chance KD would be back. Their reaction to that possibility was fair: He owes us nothing. We had him for three seasons during which we accomplished remarkable feats. Farewell, Kevin, and thanks for the memories.

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After spending three seasons talking and debating with KD on a wide range of non-basketball subjects, from race and politics to music and vocabulary and entrepreneurship -- as well as news-conference decorum -- I believe I have a pretty good idea of what was behind his decision.

Durant wants to collaborate with friends to build something in a place that longs for it. Curry knows the feeling, and that it’s the surest path to abiding love and appreciation.

Nets players free of coronavirus symptoms, but Kevin Durant might be delayed

Nets players free of coronavirus symptoms, but Kevin Durant might be delayed

Good news. The four Brooklyn Nets players who had tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) are now free from symptoms.

Nets general manager Sean Marks announced Wednesday during a conference call with reporters that all members of Brooklyn's traveling party had completed a two-week quarantine. Even so, they will continue to abide by social-distancing guidelines.

"As it pertains to the team," Marks said (via ESPN's Malika Andrews), "I sense -- like all of us, like the rest of New York and really the rest of the globe -- we're trying to deal with this as best we can."

The Nets were scheduled to face the Warriors at Chase Center in front of no fans on March 12, but the NBA indefinitely suspended the season the previous night after two Utah Jazz players became the first in the NBA to test positive for the coronavirus. Upon returning to Brooklyn from San Francisco, the Nets paid a private company to test the team for COVID-19, which revealed that four players had tested positive.

Of those four players, three were asymptomatic. According to Marks, however, the lone player exhibiting symptoms has since recovered.

Former Warrior Kevin Durant admitted he was one of the four Nets to test positive for the coronavirus. He hadn't played all season while recovering from a torn Achilles, and was already ruled out for the duration of the 2019-20 campaign. While Durant might have some extra time on his hands these days, it's possible that the season being indefinitely paused could delay his return to game action.

The same goes for Brooklyn point guard Kyrie Irving, who underwent shoulder surgery on March 3. Though they are able to continue their respective rehabilitations, they obviously don't have access to the practice facility, which could slow the process.

"I couldn't give an answer on when they'll play this season," Marks said. "I don't think it's fair to those athletes nor the performance team to put a timeline on it. I think everyone is dealing with bigger, far more pressing things."

[RELATED: Steph had to assemble hoop Ayesha ordered in quarantine]

Marks insisted he would have a better idea of each player's respective timeline in another three weeks to a month, when he hopes to have more clarification about the NBA's plans to resume the season.

Of course, there's no guarantee that will happen, either.

Steph Curry explains how he's above average in 'Tour de Warriors' race

Steph Curry explains how he's above average in 'Tour de Warriors' race

Warriors players can't go to Chase Center to work on their game while the NBA season is indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

They can't use the team facilities to ride the bike, or hop on the treadmill or use the elliptical.

And not everybody has exercise equipment at home.

But those who do have been able to work out together ...

... virtually.

Ben Cohen of The Wall Street Journal has the details:

(Steph Curry) does have a Peloton bike at home. As it turns out, he’s not the only one: The Warriors have been going for a group ride in the morning.

The invitation goes out on a Slack group -- Curry admits to skipping one class because he didn’t see the message -- and then a maniacally competitive bicyclist named Draymond Green attempts to destroy everyone around him, according to a person familiar with the rides.

“In the Tour de Warriors,” Curry said, “I’m above average, but I’m not on the podium yet. I have to figure out how to get there. There’s always something to shoot for.”

It's not a surprise to hear that Draymond is competitive during these sessions, as he has been a regular at SoulCycle for quite some time.

[RELATED: Steph had to assemble hoop Ayesha ordered in quarantine]

“You walk out feeling sweaty, feeling good like you got a workout in, but it doesn’t put much strain on the body," the three-time NBA champion told NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke about one year ago. "Sometimes it’s good to get away from the game of basketball or the typical weight room.

“You’re working out with a different group of people, you’re all on rhythm, trying to stay on the beat with each other. When you add music to a workout, it’s fun. I do it a lot with my fiancée, and we have a good time. We sit next to each other. She’s really good at it.”

As for Steph -- knowing how competitive he is, don't be surprised if we learn that he wins the "Tour de Warriors" on the regular very soon.

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