These comments communicate the Thunder perspective about as well as anyone possibly could. Durant’s contributions to the franchise are beyond reproach — he was their best player from the moment the Sonics became the Thunder, won an MVP, and combined with Westbrook to form one of the league’s best star combinations for many years. At the same time, the Thunder had to move on once he made his decision in free agency and cannot afford to dwell on the past. Celebrating a player on an opposing team — the team that Durant and the Thunder lost to in the 2016 Western Conference Finals! — was never going to be on the agenda. It would have alienated the fans, who didn’t need any direction from the front office to know they were going to boo to Durant. That decision was made three seconds after they saw his announcement in July.
At the same time, it’s easy to see why the Warriors would have preferred the Thunder acknowledge all Durant had meant to them. He’s their player now, after all, and any team wants to do right by their stars. It’s in their interest to stand up for his interests and try to protect him from poor treatment from opposing fans, and not doing so would probably irk Durant quite a bit.
Still, whoever leaked this story probably ended up making the Warriors look worse to anyone but Durant (and maybe a few of his teammates). Telling the Thunder how they should’ve handled this situation is arrogant and condescending, evidence of the same kind of attitudes that made the rest of the league bristle when Warriors owner Joe Lacob said his team was “light years ahead” of everyone else in a New York Times profile last season. The Warriors front office has never been in the same situation as their peers with the Thunder and have no idea how they’d handle the matter. They have no place to tell OKC what to do.
It’s fine for the Warriors to think that Durant’s treatment in OKC was unduly negative and too harsh. But it’s a whole other level to blame the Thunder front office for it. Fans are entitled to be upset when a generational talent leaves their team for one of its closest rival. The Thunder can’t ignore the feelings of their fans just because the opponent thinks their new superstar deserves better. The same impulse that has the Warriors trying to protect Durant applies to OKC, as well. You have to take care of your own.
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