Kevin Durant grew emotional as he spoke to reporters Sunday afternoon.
The topic: his return to the Frank Erwin Center on the campus of his alma mater, the University of Texas. On Tuesday night, the Thunder forward will return to the building in which he began building his basketball legacy when Oklahoma City hosts San Antonio.
The last time Durant traveled to UT to be honored he cried as the school lifted his No. 35 jersey to the rafters during a halftime ceremony to retire his number.
"That’s something you don’t come past every day, people that get their jersey retired at a big-time university like that,” Durant said. "It’s a blessing to go back.”
In Durant’s final home game as a Longhorn, he scored 30 points with 16 rebounds in a classic 98-96 double-overtime win over Texas A&M. Anyone who thinks Tuesday’s return will be just another preseason game doesn’t know Durant.
His continued admiration for his alma mater is not just an act. He enjoys riling up the Sooners faithful on this side of the Red River, but he genuinely bleeds burnt orange.
It’s a love affair rarely seen between school and one-and-done stars like Durant. Making it even more extraordinary is the love goes both ways.
With no morning shoot-around scheduled for Tuesday after tonight’s game in Houston, Durant will have all day to catch up with old friends.
"I’m going to the gym to see the guys,” Durant said. "I’ll go see the people in academics. Go to the basketball office. I just might carry my game clothes to the gym because I might be there for the whole day.