adv. the action of being true to the code of ethics of one’s self, culture, and environment. keep it real.
Real recognize real, and Kevin Durant isn’t looking too familiar — well, it depends on who’s looking.
On NBA Primetime, 8:30 PM on Saturday, February 11th, Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors walked into the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City for the first time this season.
We’ve already seen two OKC and GSW match-ups this season, but both took place at the Oracle Arena. Last night was the long-awaited return of the Oklahoma City snake, and the city was electric awaiting his arrival.
Thunder fans made it clear that they were still hurting over Durant’s departure in the pettiest fashion. You can’t spell “Durant” without “U Ran” and cupcakes filled the arena — the new symbol for KD in Oklahoma City.
Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins revealed former Thunder forward Kendrick Perkins used the term cupcake as an insult aimed at teammates who weren’t tough enough, who were, you guessed it: soft. And not long after learning Durant would be taking his talents to the Bay Area, Westbrook took to Instagram and posted a picture of baked goods.
This game was an opportunity for the fans to vent and express all the different emotions they have been feeling since their superstar betrayed them in July. The sting of his absence was alive and well, and what made it worse was the fact that he left to the best team in the west, full of superstars. A top 5 player joining a top five team with other top 5 players, and this team being the team that beat OKC twice in a row in the western conference finals.
When a time-out was called in the third quarter after a mini-run by the Thunder, Russell Westbrook was seen yelling and bickering with Durant while walking away, saying: “I’m comin!” and KD seemed unbothered, shrugging, probably saying “you’re still going to lose.” This moment finally ignited the fire we were all waiting for. Westbrook plays with a chip on his shoulder, with such a fury every night and it’s why the fans respect him so much. At this point in the game, although down 20, I’m sure everyone wouldn’t have minded if the other eight players were pulled off the court and Durant and Westbrook just went head to head, hashing out all the tension. But the reality is, this tension goes way deeper than Westbrook and Durant.
Yes, loyalty is a huge factor. Yes, we all felt and continue to feel betrayed by Durant’s move – we’ve all been there, been snaked, and can relate.
This match-up meant something different to Oklahoma City fans and Durant himself.
The city did put too much time and effort into being petty and upset. But KD wasn’t only the face of the franchise, but also for the city. It’s hard to forget all that he did for the Thunder organization. He took a team that moved from Seattle to Oklahoma to the playoffs, even making a finals appearance. He’s generous, and it showed when he took the time to be involved with after school programs with the youth.
A win for OKC would solidify much more than adding to their overall regular season record. A win would confirm to the city and franchise that they can do this basketball thing without Durant. It would help their egos. It would shine more light on the spectacular season Russell Westbrook is having: more triple doubles than all the all-stars combined.
For Durant, this win, at the place he played for eight years would help him as a player, and a man. He is great, and he can prove it to his haters. Which he did, by dropping 34 points as he defeated his former team again.
But ultimately, they wanted to prove the same thing to themselves: they’re okay — and maybe, better, without each other.
Although the Warriors came out with the 130-114 victory, Durant and OKC won in different ways.
Durant had the support of his new teammates, who knew what this game meant to KD, by playing their hearts out. Curry and Green proudly wore Cupcake shirts post-game, flipping the meaning. Basically: cupcakes aren’t bad, they’re great. And if Durant is a cupcake, they’ll take a dozen.
Louder than the boos for Durant were the cheers for Russell Westbrook, which included MVP chants each and every time he went to the foul line. He heard his name being chanted when he squared off with Durant for a jump ball in the third quarter.
It’s Westbrook’s city now.