“You’ll always be a Sonic.”
In a spotlight feature with the The Mercury News, superstar forward Kevin Durant remarks how fans in Portland often tell him this whenever he plays there. He also reveals he keeps a “really big bin” of Sonics gear and memorabilia from his time in Seattle.
This Friday, Durant and the Golden State Warriors will tip off against the Sacramento Kings in an NBA preseason game at Seattle’s KeyArena. It will be the first NBA game played in Seattle since the SuperSonics departed town in 2008.
It’s also the last public event to be held at KeyArena. Last week, the city approved a project that will see a new arena built at the location while preserving the iconic roof of the existing building.
In the article, Durant recalls playing the last Sonics home game and leading the crowd in chanting “Save Our Sonics!” He refers to the game as the most memorable of his rookie season in the league.
“It was indescribable man,” Durant recalled with a small group of reporters. “I can’t put into words the energy of the building and the amount of love. The support that was in the building was incredible.”
Looking forward to Friday’s game, Durant says “the energy is going to be amazing in the building.”
“The Seahawks had some success. Now the Storm had some success. But everybody in the basketball world and the NBA knows the Sonics need to be back in Seattle,” Durant said. “I’m looking forward to going out there and playing. Hopefully we give them a show.”
The Mercury News goes on to summarize Durant’s career, including his start in Seattle, what he calls a “deeply-rooted basketball city.” He found the Emerald City instantly welcoming and “really chill” when he came to work out prior to the 2007 NBA Draft. “I thought it would be faster. But once I got out there, it was smooth sailing,” he says.
It helped that his agent at the time was based in Seattle and that Durant became close with the family of now-retired NBA pro Spencer Hawes, his best friend on the high school basketball circuit the article notes. The Sonics also traded for the draft pick used on Jeff Green that year, who Durant had grown up with in Maryland.
He became friends with other Seattle native NBA players like Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson.
“I kind of felt like I was a part of that group with those guys,” Durant said. “Just hooping with them every day and being around them and that community. It was deeper than just me playing for the Sonics. I had a little family there as well.”
The article covers Durant’s numerous returns to Seattle in the past decade for promotional appearances and to play in Crawford’s pro-am summer league. In 2016, he donated a new basketball court to the local Boys and Girls Club.
On Friday, he hopes to recreate the atmosphere he experienced his first season as a pro.
“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.”