SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Kevin Durant hasn't been back to Seattle since April 2008.
Since leaving the city he was drafted to soon after his rookie season, Durant has severed all ties to Seattle. Early last year, Durant dropped the final domino when he sold his Mercer Island home.
The place has been a fond but distant memory ever since.
“I haven't been back since my last game as a Sonic,” Durant said. “That's the last time I've been back.”
That could be about to change.
Friday's game against the Kings could be the Thunder's last trip to Sacramento. A Washington-based group is in the process of purchasing the franchise with the intent of relocating the team to Seattle next season.
Durant, who was the soft-spoken, teenage face of the Sonics franchise during the 2007-08 season, has mixed emotions about the potential move.
“It's a great day for the Seattle fans and a tough day for Sacramento fans,” Durant said. “I've been a part of that whole deal.
“I loved the city of Seattle. It's a great place to live. It's beautiful, especially in the spring and summertime. The fans are unbelievable, man. They show so much support. It's just a great city, a great NBA city. But I feel for the Sacramento fans because you never know when another team will come around. (Sacramento) is a great city. The fans are very enthused about basketball there in Sacramento so it's going to be tough to see them leave.”
Nick Collison is the only other Thunder player left from the franchise's Seattle days. Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka both were drafted by the Sonics in 2008 but never played a game in Seattle. The draft took place in late June, but the team relocated to Oklahoma City in early July. Collison still has a home in the Seattle area and spends the bulk of his off-seasons there.
Durant just hopes he's well received.
“I hope so. I didn't have any say-so in the move. It's not like I just wanted to get up and leave,” Durant said. “I was just doing what the organization wanted to do. Oklahoma City is a great place to play basketball as well, and it all worked out for us. But Seattle is a great city as well. Being drafted there, I still have a place in my heart for the city of Seattle.”
Nearly five years later, Durant still has vivid memories of the final time he took the floor inside KeyArena — the outdated venue that Seattle officials and residents refused to replace, paving the way for the franchise's move to Oklahoma City.