As the Team USA pre Olympics tour continues, Kevin Durant got to taste the home support of the Oracle Arena for the first time, something of a teaser trailer of his first season with the Golden State Warriors.
The gold medalists in the last two Olympic games beat China for the second time in a row, this time 107-57, their biggest win so far in the Olympics preparation tour. Durant started in the lineup, like Klay Thompson and Draymond Green did, scoring 13 points. DeMarcus Cousins led the scoring with 21 points, Carmelo Anthony added 20 off the bench, and Thompson finished with 15. Harrison Barnes, who left the Warriors this summer to join the Dallas Mavericks, finished with 4 points.
In the previous game, played in Los Angeles, Durant and other Warriors players were booed by some of the fans, either for being Los Angeles Clippers rivals, or simply for playing for the Warriors. Durant and Green were the focus of the jeers, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. Obviously, when they get support, especially Durant after the summer he’s been having in terms of the reaction across the board to his move, they embrace it.
It felt a little weird for these fans to be cheering me on like that. Obviously, being somewhere for so long and then making the change, but it felt great. I appreciate all the basketball fans who come and enjoy us playing. It was cool, man. It was different. Obviously, it’s going to be different. The vibes were great, everybody showed me major love, showed the team major love, so it was fun.
Durant is trying to remove himself from the situation in Oklahoma City. Since announcing his decision to join the Warriors, he made some comments that wouldn’t be considered tactful or too intelligent, trying to portray himself in some victim manner, which only strengthened the reaction against him. Durant is known to be very aware of everything being said about him or written about him, so while he’s probably 100% confident that he made the right choice by leaving, it’s hard to believe the backlash and hate hasn’t gotten to him in some way.
But at this point, it doesn’t really matter. The current summer mission is to win an Olympic gold medal, which is going to be shocking if it doesn’t happen. After the weird tournament of 2004, the whole concept around Team USA and international basketball has changed, being taken a lot more seriously. LeBron James and Stephen Curry aren’t here, but it shouldn’t matter. There are better, tougher teams out there than Argentina and China, but if Team USA doesn’t cruise to a third consecutive gold medal in Rio, even if it runs into a little bit of difficulty along the way, it will be a huge surprise.