Durant provides glimpse of a golden future with Warriors

  • United States guard Kevin Durant (5) greets teammates as they come off the court during a timeout versus Argentina Friday, July 22, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/L.E. Baskow) L.E. Baskow

  • Golden State Warriors' newest player Kevin Durant, center, joins head coach Steve Kerr, left and general manager Bob Myers during a news conference at the NBA basketball team's practice facility, Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Beck Diefenbach) Beck Diefenbach

  • A man from Mustang, Okla., wrote "traitor" on tape over "Durant" on the back of his Kevin Durant jersey in front of the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Monday, July 4, 2016. Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant announced Monday that he will sign with the Golden State Warriors. (Kurt Steiss/The Oklahoman via AP) Kurt Steiss

  • FILE - In a Monday, May 30, 2016 file photo, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts during the second half of Game 7 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif. Durant announced Monday, July 4, 2016, that he is joining All-Stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson with the Golden State Warriors. Durant made the decision public on The Players’ Tribune Monday morning. He can’t officially sign until July 7. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) Marcio Jose Sanchez

  • In his first game at Oracle Arena since signing with the Golden State Warriors in free agency, Kevin Durant was the star of the show Tuesday. Although he was in town with Team USA for an exhibition against China, many Warriors fans came out just to get a glimpse of the star. AP file

Washington Post
Published: 7/27/2016 11:43:47 PM

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Golden State Warriors won’t open training camp for another two months. But what promises to be a yearlong traveling circus began Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.

Team USA might have been playing the Chinese National Team for the second time in three days, but that was merely a backdrop to the true story of the night: the first game for Kevin Durant in his new home.

Given the level of competition Team USA was facing – Tuesday’s 107-57 win, which followed up a 106-57 triumph over the same opponent Sunday in Los Angeles – it was easy for everyone in attendance to let their minds drift to what it will be like here next season.

“It’s going to be a fun year,” Klay Thompson said. “We have this journey we have to endure first, but it’s easy to say it’s exciting, man.”

The fact everyone from the fateful meeting in the Hamptons that sealed Durant’s decision to join the Warriors earlier this month was present at Oracle Arena on Tuesday night made it even easier to think about what was to come.

Durant, of course, is a member of Team USA, as are new teammates Draymond Green and Thompson. Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry were sitting courtside, as were General Manager Bob Myers and assistant general managers Kirk Lacob and Travis Schlenk.

It was a show of force that didn’t go unnoticed by the team’s new superstar.

“They know the decision I made and how stressful that time was so they’re just trying to make me feel comfortable, and I appreciate that,” Durant said. “It’s a testament to who they are as people, and I really appreciate it.”

They all were on hand for Durant’s first moments inside his new home – where it took him all of seven seconds to make his first basket, a three-pointer on the wing. Naturally, the basket came off a Draymond Green assist, as did a fast break dunk on the following possession. Durant finished the night with 13 points.

That was about the end of the excitement for the night. Curry’s arrival – along with his wife, Ayesha – halfway through the second quarter came with more excitement than anything happening in the game, to the point where virtually every fan in the building stopped what they were doing to watch the Currys walk to their seats next to Iguodala.

“Make sure you give Steph crap for his dramatic entrance,” Green would say later.

After starting the new game together alongside Kyrie Irving and DeMarcus Cousins, the three teammates eventually were back on the court together in the fourth quarter, when a deafening “War-riors” chant rang through the arena.

It was one of many examples of the night being all about the Warriors, as opposed to Team USA. When the Americans took the court about 15 minutes before tip, the team received raucous cheers from the half-full arena. Then, each of the three Warriors on Team USA – Durant, Thompson and Green – were shown in order on the scoreboard, receiving three more ovations from the partisan fans. Green then addressed the crowed pregame, flanked by his two teammates, while Green called Durant “your newest Warrior” to the delight of the hometown fans.

“The crowd was great,” Team USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski said, before adding with a smile, “You wouldn’t want to be introduced after KD in line.”

The excitement for Durant’s arrival extended even beyond anything he did during the game itself. His new Nike commercial was then shown on the scoreboard multiple times – both before the game and during halftime – to promote the Nike Zoom KD9, his new shoe.

At halftime, Durant was the first player out on the court, and when he came over to say hello to Curry, several hundred fans had their cell phones up to document the moment. Durant then said hello to Myers and Iguodala, while Harrison Barnes – the forgotten Warrior, given he was understandably let go in order to create the cap space to sign Durant – shared a friendly embrace with Curry (and was given plenty of warmth by the fans whenever he was on the court).

“It was just catching up,” Durant said with a smile, when asked to describe their conversation, “but it was good to see him.”

The game itself, however, was dreadful. Not only is Team USA the runaway favorite to win a third straight Olympic gold next month, but China may be the worst of the 12 teams headed to Rio de Janeiro – a feeling it did nothing to disprove by being hopelessly outmatched in both games.

For the fans here, though, that didn’t matter much. Their attention was on the members of the Warriors on the court and in the stands.

There will be plenty of time to dissect these Warriors, to figure out how these pieces all fit together and what will happen as the new season plays out. For now, though, everyone is still in the honeymoon phase.

“It was amazing,” Durant said. “The atmosphere was great, the energy was great. The fans showed me major love, and I appreciated that.

“I’m looking forward to the season.”

So is everyone else here in the Bay Area. The rest of the NBA, on the other hand? That’s another story.




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