Thunder’s Kevin Durant scores 63 points in summer league return to Seattle
No one will harp on Kevin Durant’s field goal percentage and lack of efficiency after his summer league pro-am performance on Sunday, not when the Thunder forward was returning to a Seattle court for the first time since the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.
The Associated Press reports that Durant hit for 63 points (on 26-for-62 shooting) in a 147-141 overtime loss to a team headed up by Clippers guard, Seattle native and pro-am organizer Jamal Crawford. That 63 included the four dunks shown above: a right-handed hammer, a two-handed up-and-under reverse, a driving flush and a running, flailing two-handed slam that included a scissor-kick for good measure.
Durant, 24, spent his first NBA season in Seattle, capturing 2008 Rookie of the Year honors while averaging 20.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He has often spoken fondly of the city and its fans, even wearing a Sonics hat to a practice during the 2013 playoffs.
The four-time All-Star’s first return trip comes a little more than three months after basketball fans in Seattle received word that the Kings franchise would be sold to a California-based group led by TIBCO chairman Vivek Ranadive that would keep the organization in Sacramento. A Seattle-based group led by Valiant Capital founder Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had previously reached an agreement to purchase the Kings from the Maloof family, with the intention of relocating the team to Seattle and taking on the SuperSonics name.
On Sunday, Durant addressed roughly 3,000 fans in a sold-old Seattle Pacific University gym, showing his support for the NBA’s return to the city.
“I had some fun times in Seattle,” Durant told the crowd. “I just want to say I miss you guys. Thank you for the warm welcome. I can’t wait to come back.”
Crawford, who starred at Seattle’s Rainier Beach High School and has run the summer pro-am league for a number of years, re-introduced Durant to the crowd.
“He reached out to me to come perform in front of you guys,” Crawford said. “He loves Seattle. He took his own jet. He spent a lot of money to come up here and perform for you guys, so you guys show him some love.”
The Associated Press reports that Durant was warmly received, as you might expect, with a number of fans wearing his old Sonics jersey.
Durant tried to slip away from the gym quietly, but fans found his SUV and surrounded it nearly an hour after the game ended. Instead of forcing his way through, Durant stopped, signed autographs and posed for pictures from the backseat of his vehicle. Shortly after his game ended, Durant tweeted, “I love and miss Seattle.”
While the Thunder organization rarely discusses its pre-Oklahoma days, Durant has expressed regret for how the franchise left Seattle.
“We got up and moved and it was tough for the fans in Seattle,” Durant said in 2012, according to King5.com. “I wish it didn’t go down the way it did. … I played there for a year. I can’t just throw [Seattle fans] to the side.”