Durant admitted that he didn’t know any better when he signed for the full five-year extension in 2010 rather than insisting on what’s known as a player option, an out clause that could have made him a free agent after next season.
“To be honest, I just didn’t know. I was 21. I didn’t know,” Durant said. “Obviously, when you sign a deal you want to have the best options for yourself, the best flexibility for yourself. But I loved Oklahoma City so much I just wanted to dedicate and show them that I’m all about the team.”
Durant has as much for six seasons. But in doing so, he’s maintained a close connection to his hometown, from returning there the past two summers for the launch of his newest signature shoe, to playing pick-up ball on legendary playgrounds.
“I grew up watching the Bullets/Wizards,” Durant said. “I grew up taking the train to that arena all the time to watch Georgetown, the Bullets, the Washington Mystics. That whole city is a part of me. It’s in my blood. I love going back home, seeing my family and playing there. But I love Oklahoma City, too.”
As for James’ return, Durant said he admired the move from afar.
“I thought it was well-thought out. It was classy,” Durant said. “It was a great move to do it as a letter. That was pretty cool. It’s funny seeing guys think about more than just basketball for once. He thought about the city where he comes from, about Northeast Ohio and how he can affect so many of the kids just being there playing basketball. I love that.
“So many guys get criticized for making the decision that’s best for them instead of what’s best for everybody else. He’s a guy that did that. You gotta respect that. I applauded him. I texted him and told him congratulations on the decision and told him I was happy for him. Everybody thought that was a great move. As a fan of the game, it’s going to be pretty cool to see him back in Cleveland.”
As for what would keep him in Oklahoma City, Durant even declined to feed into the hypothetical idea of the Thunder possibly winning the NBA championship in the next two seasons.
“Two years straight? That would be cool,” he said. “That would be one of those things where you’re getting into a dynasty. But I don’t want to think too far down the line. I’m just trying to focus on today. I love my teammates, my coaches, the front office, the city. We’ll see.”