OAKLAND, Calif. — Kevin Durant, who began his professional career in the Pacific Northwest, believes the NBA should bring a team back to Seattle.
As the Golden State Warriors prepare for Friday night’s preseason game against the Sacramento Kings in KeyArena in Seattle, Durant is hopeful that the proud basketball hotbed will be home to an NBA team again soon.
“For sure,” Durant told ESPN. “Most definitely. It’s a basketball city. It’s a sports town. … They have a good representation of basketball in the NBA from Seattle-born players, Washington state-born players. And I feel like that whole brand deserves an NBA team. Just like the Golden State Warriors deserve a team or the Los Angeles Lakers deserve a team, Seattle is that same way. [A team] has that same type of impact in the community. So [we have] a lot of time in life before this whole thing is over, and I’m sure we’ll see a team before it’s time.”
The Seattle SuperSonics selected Durant with the second pick in the 2007 draft. He played one season in Seattle before new owner Clay Bennett moved the team to Oklahoma City and named it the Thunder.
Durant has always spoken fondly of his time in Seattle and still feels a connection with his first professional home. He admits there are times when he looks back on his career and wonders what it would have been like had he stayed in Seattle.
“I couldn’t have any hurt [about the move],” Durant said. “I had no control over [the situation]. Obviously, I look back on it and picture what it would have been like to live there and play there, but I had no control. I spent some great, great years in Oklahoma City, and that path was perfect for me. But I still got a connection with the Northwest area, always going up there with Nike in Portland, making trips to Seattle here and there, just knowing that I’m always going to be a Sonic. I think no matter what jersey I put on, I think those fans know that.”
The Warriors’ trip to Seattle, the first time an NBA game will have been held in Seattle in more than 10 years, has brought about a lot of excitement and nostalgia over the first week and a half of Warriors training camp.
“The Sonics to me were a lot like the Warriors here in the Bay,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said recently. “A really cool brand, good history and tradition going back to the championship in ’79, just like the Warriors in ’75. Great colors, cool brand and an unbelievable fan base. I played there in the Finals in ’96 with the Bulls, and it’s a basketball town.
“I think it’s a real shame — just the fact that the Sonics don’t exist. It’s one of the franchises in this league to me that not only makes sense and feels like the NBA … I think it’s a real black mark on the NBA, and I’m hoping that the Sonics will be back at some point in the near future.”
Veteran point guard Shaun Livingston added: “Seattle is a great city. I wish — I hope that they get a team again. I think a lot of guys — there’s not too many guys left that know the SuperSonics where Seattle was a great city, great place to play. But it should be a special homecoming for Kevin.”
Durant is expected to receive a raucous ovation Friday night in front of a big crowd that will also wonder what it would have been like to watch his career unfold up close.
“It means a lot,” Durant said of playing in Seattle at last week’s media day. “It means a lot. I spent a season there, and the fans were amazing to me my first year there. It was very devastating how we up and left in the middle of the night, and I know those fans have been yearning for basketball for a long, long time. Even though it’s just a preseason game and it’s one game, hopefully we can give them a nice little show for the night. But I’m looking forward to going back and playing in front of that crowd again, and I know my teammates are going to be excited as well. The energy is going to be amazing in the building.”