Lacob expects ‘tremendous ovation’ from Warriors fans upon Durant return

Kevin Durant and the Suns visit the Warriors for the NBA season opener Tuesday night

Kevin Durant is expected to play in front of Warriors fans for the first time since the 2019 NBA Finals on Tuesday night when his Suns visit Golden State to open the season.

Warriors owner Joe Lacob told Bonta Hill and Joe Shasky of 95.7 The Game on Wednesday that he expects a warm welcome for the two-time NBA Finals MVP.

“It needs to be, it should be and it will be a tremendous ovation for a guy who helped us win two world championships, and should have been three, if it wasn’t for injury,” Lacob said in a statement. “I have nothing but the highest regard for this guy.” He was an excellent addition to our team at the time.”

Durant has yet to play in front of Chase Center fans. He played there with the Nets in February 2021, but fans were not permitted due to pandemic restrictions. As a member of the Nets, he missed two games in San Francisco due to injury, and after being traded to Phoenix at the trade deadline last season, he missed the Suns’ visit in March due to a sprained ankle.

He last appeared in a Warriors uniform in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, when he returned from a calf injury to score 11 points in 12 minutes before suffering a torn Achilles tendon in Golden State’s eventual victory in Toronto. Prior to that, Durant suffered the initial calf strain in front of Warriors fans in Game 5 of the West semifinals, a 104-99 win over the Rockets.

Then, in free agency, he chose to join the Nets and carve his own path alongside Kyrie Irving.

“For a variety of reasons, he decided he had to leave.” I’m afraid I can’t comment on that. I’m not sure if I understand. “I wish he had stayed,” Lacob said. “But the bottom line is that I have nothing but the highest regard for him.” That is how we should all feel. And he deserves a standing ovation.”

Despite the fact that his final season ended without a championship, Lacob recalled how Durant’s arrival at Golden State transformed the team from a mostly homegrown title contender (which had just set the regular-season wins record before faltering in the Finals) to a true superteam.

“When he came here, it was a big deal. “Let us not forget,” Lacob said. “It changed us, it elevated us in the basketball world, if you will.” He was a significant figure in that history.”

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