Kevin Durant's departure from Oklahoma City made him public enemy No. 1 in the town where he spent his first nine seasons. A lot of the same outrage expressed by Cleveland fans when LeBron James left for Miami was echoed by distraught fans in Oklahoma. Fans burned jerseys, cursed Durant's name, and turned to point guard Russell Westbrook as their avatar of hope.
Durant continues to be portrayed as a villain in OKC, and the intensity is peaking on the day of his first game back in town. Some fans have designed shirts to "celebrate" the homecoming, and one particularly hostile piece of clothing snuck onto SportsCenter this morning:
The "KowarD" label doesn't cut that deep. He certainly isn't the first free agent to be accused of chasing rings, but the cupcake graphic on the back is a lot more personal. An October feature on Russell Westbrook, written by Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins, revealed the history of that term in Oklahoma City:
Westbrook’s closest friends are actually former high school teammates, long-standing wing men like Donnell Beverly and Demetrius (Juice) Deason, who flank him in summer pickup games and play dominoes with him on the Fourth. “He didn’t talk much about what happened,” says Beverly. Westbrook didn’t disparage Durant. He didn’t judge him. All he did was take a picture. When Kendrick Perkins played center for the Thunder, he called teammates “cupcake” if he thought they were acting a little soft. Westbrook and Durant adopted the term in jest.
This helps to explain an Instagram post Westbrook made on the Fourth of July, in the midst of all the Durant-to-Oakland hooplah, featuring nothing but a tower of the delicious treat:
The fans took it a step further in Oklahoma City tonight, lobbing "Cupcake" chants at Durant during the game:
If you thought that was going to be the only shirt disparaging Durant upon his return today, think again. Enterprising Thunder fans are going to show up with all sorts of Durant-inspired gear on tonight, including this take on a locker-room quip made by Westbrook last month:
The pre-game chatter might end up being more exciting than the game itself; Golden State won the first two games in this year's season series by 20+ points, and they've only gotten better as Durant has assimilated within the team's system. Westbrook has the sound and fury behind him, but the Warriors have what looks like an unstoppable team. Thunder fans probably won't see their team win tonight, so they'll have to settle for triumph in the war of words.
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