In Kevin Durant's perfect world, the atmosphere for Tuesday's game against the Washington Wizards in Chinatown would focus on basketball, on that night's game rather than the future. The hype would center on the matchups involving two teams hoping for championships within their respective conferences.
The Oklahoma City Thunder star realizes that's not happening, not in this timeline. When the local kid returns home for his one NBA game of the season, the sellout crowd -- I'm assuming -- won't have tunnel vision on the game even with All-Stars Durant, Russell Westbrook and John Wall plus Bradley Beal on the court.
Part of the focus without question will be about the summer of 2016 when the high-scoring forward could enter free agency (Durant can sign a 1-year qualifying offer and defer free agency until 2017). Part of the evening will be about parsing the Seat Pleasant native's interactions for even the slightest of hints about his future plans. Do Durant and Wizards star John Wall appear chummy? Any sense of an emotional bond when the local crowd cheers wildly for the Montrose Christian product during pregame introductions and throughout all four quarters?
Durant told USA Today recently that he would love for this game, in terms of attention, to simply be another NBA game between playoff contenders. He's not hopeful that happens because the All-Star and perennial NBA Most Valuable Player of the year candidate understands what's happening -- and remembers what went down when he visited last season. Even the halftime act was Durant-centric.
“(The Jan. 22 visit) was kind of disrespectful, in my opinion, because you’ve got a great team there already that deserves your full 100% support,” said Durant, who – among many other things – was featured on the Wizards’ jumbotron wearing a ‘Washington’ jersey during the game. “I wouldn’t like that if I was on that team. I didn’t like that, but it comes with it nowadays.
“Free agency is like a season now, and it shouldn’t be that big. Me, I feel, is you should focus on who you have on your team. It’s easy to get your hopes up, and expect a guy to come to your team or whatever – and I’m not talking about myself, I’m just talking about free agency in the past years and in the future – you get your hopes up as a fan, and then they let you down and you end up not liking the player. There’s a little bit too much emphasis on that type of stuff, but it’s part of the game.”
The reality is fans should focus on the game and the player matchups. They should live in the moment rather than look for future clues. That's because Durant is far too wise to divulge any plans whether he has them or not, though use of the word "disrespectful" is interesting and not in a good for way for the "KD2DC" movement. Despite the last two games ending in ugly losses, the Wizards can play and they'll need to remind all of that if they're to break the current mini-slide. That's because Durant is averaging over 30 points per game early this season after missing much of the previous campaign with multiple surgeries on his right foot. Enjoy one of the planet's best basketball players doing his thing and see how the Wall/Beal crew counter.
In a perfect world, the game is the primary if not only focus in Chinatown Tuesday night. In the real world, no way that happens. Sorry, Kevin. Anyway, until tip-off, we've got some new words to parse.