At long last, Kevin Durant will make his return to the Bay Area on Saturday, although the grandeur of his reunion surely won’t be the same without an arena full of fans.
In normal times, the two-time NBA champion’s return to Golden State would warrant a heartfelt and spirited commemoration from Dub Nation to thank Durant for what he accomplished in three seasons with the Warriors. Alas, in times of COVID-19, Chase Center will be sans fans for his return.
It’s disappointing for Warriors’ fans, who surely would want to show the 10-time All-Star their appreciation for bringing back-to-back titles to the Bay. It’s also disappointing for coach Steve Kerr.
“I wish our fans could be in the building for that game so that we can give Kevin a proper welcome and a proper celebration of his three years here,” Kerr said on a Zoom call with reporters before Thursday’s game against the Orlando Magic. “We’re all looking forward to seeing him. It’s too bad there won’t be any fans in the stands.”
The Warriors faced Durant and the Brooklyn Nets to open the NBA season in December, which resulted in a ghastly 125-99 trouncing of Golden State. However, the Warriors are a much-improved team with 26 games under their belt, even without rookie center James Wiseman, who will miss at least another week with a wrist injury.
Of course, the Nets look quite different too since acquiring former NBA MVP James Harden in early January.
Saturday’s matchup beholds much anticipation for both teams, but the contest surely will lose some of its allure without fans. Still, Kerr hopes that Chase Center can give Durant the welcoming he deserves when he returns in 2022.
“I imagine next season when, knock on wood, we have fans back in the stands, we will commemorate his return,” Kerr said.
Knowing Dub Nation, they’ll make sure to show up, regardless of how long they will have to wait.