Shaquille O’Neal received some applause during his introduction on Cavaliers opening night. Bernie Kosar’s Dallas Cowboys jersey may have sold more units in Cleveland than it did in Dallas. Omar Vizquel could run for mayor, not campaign, and still win in a landslide. If Zydrunas Ilgauskas was in a random Clevelander’s home, he would be told to just lock the door as he leaves.
But all of the abovementioned players actually played games in the city of Cleveland, for a Cleveland team. On Sunday afternoon, prior to the Cavaliers getting drubbed by 20 points at the hands of Oklahoma City, All-World forward Kevin Durant was greeted with a warm reception which caught the star player a bit off guard.
“I was [surprised], I was, it was pretty cool,” Durant told WFNY’s Brendan Bowers postgame. “I really appreciate it, and I just gotta keep doing things the right way, I guess.”
Naturally, Durant would not delve into what “right” is, but credit Cavalier fans for understanding what a player of Durant’s makeup means to the game despite being the NBA’s leading scorer (28.0 points per game) and – you know – playing for the other team. It can be assumed that “doing things right” falls somewhere between signing a contract extension with a small-market team, announcing it on Twitter, and calling Chris Bosh a “fake tough guy.” Not speaking in third person may also help his case.
The 22-year old Durant had some appreciation of his own as he spoke highly of the fans who came out on a Sunday afternoon despite the Cavaliers being a 12-win team and having the worst record in the NBA.
“I was still shocked when they called out the starting five and it was packed,” said Durant of the fans at Quicken Loans Arena. “Throughout most of the game it was packed, so the fans still come out and support.
“They still support the team, and I still enjoy coming here and playing,” he continued. “And that team over there has been playing hard ever since the beginning of the season, so they’re gonna turn it around.”
This past weekend, Brendan waxed methodical on the process through which the Thunder have found themselves as perennial contenders. While finding a player of the on- and off-court quality of Durant will be tough, the Cavaliers should have plenty of chances over the next three-to-four years.
Durant would finish Sunday’s game with 19 points, three rebounds, a steal and a block in only 29 minutes of play. He has only played less than 30 minutes twice since the calendar turned 2011, so it could be assumed that the MVP hopeful appreciated the rest just as much as he did the applause.
For a video of the Durant postgame interview, catch it over at Stepien Rules. Many thanks to Kevin Durant as well as Brendan, both doing the right things.