But the overall experience of returning to his native Washington?
That’s a different story.
Many players dislike playing in their hometowns. The demands – for time, tickets and more – are immense. It can be easier just to stay away.
Durant says he loves it, though.
Durant in a Q&A, via Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:
Everyone around here probably just wants to get tickets. What is it like your one night being in town and it’s the Kevin Durant show?
KD: “It’s great, a great feeling, man, knowing I walked these streets and I grew up here and I can inspire so many kids that have the same things that I had. It means a lot coming back playing here because I remember as a kid catching the train to come down here and watching Wizards, Mystics and Georgetown play all the time. To be able to walk the court as an NBA player, it shows the journey I’ve been on.”
Is it easy for you to block out distractions on the court, especially on a night like tonight?
KD: “Yeah, I think I’m pretty good at not getting distracted. It’s (not) easy when you’re playing at home and my family’s here and so many people came to see my play. But once I just focus on the game, I have a basketball game to worry about. Plus, I have my mom. She is a superwoman so she’s taking care of everything.”
So, Durant is signing with the Wizards next summer?
Obviously, there’s a difference between playing in Washington once per year as opposed to 41 times as a member of the home team. Durant might love it now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants the burden of spending so much time in his hometown.
Still, these responses should encourage the Wizards. Durant has played eight games in Washington. He knows what he’s getting into tonight. If he didn’t enjoy this experience, it’s nearly impossible to imagine he’d want to join the Wizards. So, at worse, this leaves door open for him signing. At best, it’s a selling point.
On the flip side, Durant is hailed as a hero in Washington now. Unless he really toys with the Wizards in free agency, he’ll probably retain that status even if he re-signs with the Thunder. But if he left Oklahoma City, no matter how he did it, he’d probably become a villain there. So, Durant could re-sign with the Thunder and have two cities where he enjoys playing, and they enjoy him.
This summer, I’m sure Durant will consider how much he loves playing in Washington. That doesn’t mean he’ll sign with the Wizards, but it is a data point.