Kevin Durant‘s return to Oklahoma City is sure to be emotional, which means it could also be potentially dangerous.
Durant is said to have hired extra security for his first game back in Oklahoma City with the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night. The move comes after he asked LeBron James’ agent for advice on dealing with a hostile crowd. With plenty of ill will between Thunder fans and the team’s former star, it’s easy why he’d want to be careful.
A heightened armed security team has been procured, tripling the normal amount of security personnel the Warriors typically travel with, league sources told ESPN.
During what is expected to be an emotionally charged, contentious scene at Chesapeake Energy Arena, (Durant business manager Rich) Kleiman — who orchestrated Durant’s free-agent meetings in The Hamptons last offseason — will sit next to Durant’s mother, Wanda, sources said.
A group of security officials will be strictly assigned to ensure they are supervised and protected throughout the game, sources said.
Durant will almost certainly be booed throughout the game, but that’s something that can only really do psychological harm. Obviously, Durant is worried about his family in the stands and wants to be careful. Since this week has been dominated by an awkward crowd interaction at a basketball game, it’s understandable that Durant will be careful.
The Warriors don’t have a shootaround and Kleiman will represent Durant at some appearances at charitable foundations he’s still involved with in Oklahoma City. Those two things can be chalked up to how short a stay the Warriors have in Oklahoma City—they played last night and will leave town right after the game.
Still, Durant is preparing for the worst. He contacted LeBron James’ agent, Rich Paul, to get some advice on how to handle his first game in Oklahoma City since leaving the team for Golden State in free agency last summer.
In the conversation, as relayed to ESPN, Paul stressed to Durant the importance of hiring additional security staff, keeping his emotions in check, monitoring his family’s whereabouts, moving precisely in the arena and not reacting to insults. Paul also reminded him to show his appreciation to the city and organization and reminded him that as long as he’s happy with his decision, he doesn’t owe anybody anything.
As frustrating as that is to hear for Thunder fans, it’s correct. Athletes don’t owe fans anything, and Durant did everything he could to win while in a Thunder uniform. There’s no justifiable reason to harm Durant or his family simply because he made a decision to play basketball somewhere else.