"Summer lovin’ had me a blast "Summer lovin’ happened so fast” Chris Paul returns to Rydell High tonight. Returns to the Ford Center, where that crush-at-first-sight occurred, where that great American sports story, Oklahoma City and the Hornets, met in the basketball version of Grease. Where a city fell hard for a young ballplayer and believed the halcyon dream that you could find a pro athlete worth cheering for. CP3 was back twice last year, once for a November game that was so dismal the Thunder fired its coach and once for a February game on the day Tyson Chandler swapped teams, a trade that was rescinded after the Hornets skipped town. Tonight should be straight basketball. No firings. No trades. Straight basketball, except for that funny feeling you get when an old flame burns in your eyes. OKC has a new heart throb. Kevin Durant is as wondrous in his own way as Paul, and BoomTown is not torn between two lovers. Make no mistake, it will suit the city just fine if KD scores 50 tonight and the Durantulas send Paul to bed without his supper. But something nags at me. Durant’s now been here almost as long as was Paul (two years), and while the romance blooms, the spark doesn’t seem quite the same as when Oklahoma City went ga-ga over Paul, when sky rockets took flight in those "summer heat, boy and girl meet” days when the Hornets arrived off the boat from New Orleans. When the Sonics hung out their shingle, I predicted that Durant would own this town by that first October. Didn’t happen. Hasn’t happened yet. Don’t get the wrong idea. Durant is popular and will only get more so. Thunder brass says appearance requests for Durant are off the charts. A New York Times story in September that suggested Durant can drive the streets and walk the grocery aisles without being recognized is just silly. Oklahoma City is just a place a lot more likely to leave you alone; even Bob Stoops can sit down for a meal in Bricktown without being bothered. So Durant indeed will own this town. His stardom will soar — at warp speed if the Thunder keeps up this playoff pace — but just yet, it hasn’t matched that electricity we felt with Paul. And here’s why. →Personality: CP3 was more engaging. More of a spokesman. More of a team leader. More front and center. Seemed easier for fans to get to know. Durant’s more of a big ol’ lovable kid, except during the games, when he’s a big ol’ lovable NBA superstar. →Arrival: The Hornets’ circumstances were more enchanting than the Sonics’. OKC rescued the Hornets. OKC shanghaied the Sonics. Paul was a rookie in October 2005; that first-love stuff with Oklahoma City was reciprocal. Durant spent his rookie year in Seattle; coming here was like he’d been traded. →Performance: The Hornets started off mystifyingly competitive. We thought they would stink, but in two seasons, they never played a meaningless game at the Ford Center. Meanwhile, the Thunder was beyond awful. Hard to embrace anyone during a 3-29 start. We thought we were getting an NBA team; instead we got the ’62 Mets. →Timing: Durant hit this town at an historic time. Oklahoma always had been a crazy college market, and though the NBA is changing that, last winter was an apex of heroes. Sam Bradford and Blake Griffin were homegrown Sooner stars; Griffin was the best college hoopster (and pro prospect) in the nation, while Slingin’ Sam won the Heisman and reached a popularity unseen by any Sooner ever. →Longhorns: Paul was a Wake Forest man; the Deacons are about as harmless as it gets. Durant played at Texas and is proud of it, which he should be. But flashing those hook ‘em Horns signs alienates some fans. Not many, but some. Remember, this is a state where a whole bunch of cars sport upside down longhorns in their rear windows. →Commerce: Paul didn’t do much endorsing in OKC, but at least he had a contract with Chesapeake Energy. That deal is off limits to Durant; NBA rules prohibit contracts between players and companies whose ownership has stake in the franchise. Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon is a Thunder primary partner. Plus, the national economy collapsed just after the Thunder’s arrival. Celebrity endorsements have taken a hit everywhere. So Oklahoma City’s weird waltz with these two NBA superstars is perfectly understandable. "Summer sun, something’s begun; Summer dreams, ripped at the seams.” Get your heart broken, you’re a little slower to give it away the next time. But give it away you do, and Oklahoma City slowly but surely is embracing Kevin Durant. Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.