OAKLAND – Kevin Durant will not come out and say it with any real conviction. He won’t. He can’t. Not without being judged without jury.
He’s falling in love with the Bay Area.
Durant, having signed with the Warriors in July, is enthralled with the place one former local football head coach once described as “God’s Country.” He has spent recent weeks settling in and getting out and finds himself swept up in the charms of Oakland and San Francisco and other cities and towns – and the people within – that constitute one of the world’s unique locations.
What was speculated upon Durant’s July 4 decision to sign with the Warriors is being confirmed with each passing day. Though he is here to play basketball in a style he likes, with teammates he has bonded with, he also wants to dive into the Bay Area’s endless cultural smorgasbord.
This does not in any way indicate Durant suddenly hates Oklahoma City or the Thunder or the residents of the state due north of Texas. He called the place home for the better part of a decade. He opened businesses there. He donated his time and money. He gave to the area and the area loved him for it.
But the man clearly craved new experiences and sought new challenges, as well as a dramatically different vantage point. The window through which he views life is bigger in the Bay Area than it ever could have been in Oklahoma City.
Durant won’t say it. But the evidence continues to reveal itself.
He’s riding public transportation. He’s going to record stores – yes, record stores. He’s walking the streets and taking in the sights. He’s going to concerts and, for crying out loud, rubbing shoulders with the folks who shop the clearance rack as well as those who can afford tickets to see the Warriors.
“It was fun,” Durant said of his semi-organized tour last week. “Nike did a great job of coordinating everything. I just tried to get out and touch the people a little bit and let ‘em know I’m here.”
From BART with the people to Sunday night and the risky undertaking of joining the mosh pit beneath the floating stage on which Kanye West performed at Oracle Arena.
A four-time scoring champ and former MVP . . . in a mosh pit with about 3,000 people crammed on the arena floor.
“I used to take the train to school every day, to high school, so I’ve had that experience before,” Durant said of his BART excursion. “But the Kanye thing, that was different. It was fun, man. That whole experience was something I’ve never felt before. I was happy I was able to get the chance to go.
“It was nuts. It was nuts. Just seeing all the videos throughout the summer and never having a chance to get to a show . . . so I’m glad it came through here. I was telling all my friends the whole summer I wanted to get into a mosh pit. It was amazing.”
Could you imagine Kobe Bryant in a mosh pit? Tim Duncan? Michael Jordan? Durant didn’t care. This was something he wanted to do, and could do. He felt it. So he did it.
Judge him at your own risk.
This is Durant spreading his wings in a way he never could in Oklahoma City simply because he has entered an appreciably broader cultural zone. If he didn’t outgrow OKC – he doesn’t dare say that – he surely welcomes the vast societal and intellectual diversity of his new home.
Durant already was somewhat familiar with the area. His first NBA agent, Aaron Goodwin, is an Oakland resident. When Durant came to town with his previous teams, he would, if time permitted, visit ballparks and restaurants and other various attractions.
This is now his home. He said as much on Monday. And he obviously enjoys the new digs and all its trappings.
Durant loved what he had, and now he loves what he has. When someone moves out of one home and into another, larger home, does that have to mean he didn’t like the old place?