Durant lobbies for NBA’s return to Seattle

Kevin Durant began his NBA career in Seattle. (AFP pic)

SEATTLE: Kevin Durant hasn’t forgotten where he began his NBA career, and that is providing a special feeling for Friday’s pre-season game in Seattle.

The Golden State Warriors star would also like to see an NBA franchise return to the Pacific Northwest city.

“Most definitely. It’s a basketball city. It’s a sports town,” Durant told ESPN in advance of Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings. “The brand of basketball in Seattle — just from how many NBA players they have in the NBA — they have a good representation of basketball in the NBA from Seattle-born players.”

“And I feel like that whole brand deserves an NBA team. Just like the Golden State Warriors deserve a team or the Los Angeles Lakers deserve a team, Seattle is that same way. A team has that same type of impact in the community. So (we have) a lot of time in life before this whole thing is over, and I’m sure we’ll see a team before it’s time.”

Durant was the second overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft and played one season with the Seattle SuperSonics before the franchise departed for Oklahoma City. He averaged 20.3 points and was named NBA Rookie of the Year.

He said he enjoyed his season in Seattle and often wonders how things would have worked out if the team didn’t relocate.

“I had no control over it,” Durant said. “Obviously, I look back on it and picture what it would have been like to live there and play there, but I had no control. I spent some great, great years in Oklahoma City, and that path was perfect for me.”

“But I still got a connection with the Northwest area, always going up there with Nike in Portland, making trips to Seattle here and there, just knowing that I’m always going to be a Sonic. I think no matter what jersey I put on, I think those fans know that.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr didn’t like it when the SuperSonics were allowed to move and thinks it is a travesty that the NBA hasn’t yet returned to town.

“I think it’s a real shame — just the fact that the Sonics don’t exist,” Kerr told reporters. “It’s one of the franchises in this league to me that not only makes sense and feels like the NBA … I think it’s a real black mark on the NBA, and I’m hoping that the Sonics will be back at some point in the near future.”

The city of Seattle is on the verge of receiving an NHL expansion franchise, and a new arena plan has been hatched that may elevate the chances of getting a new NBA franchise.

But for now, Friday’s game at KeyArena represents the first time an NBA game will be played in the city since the departure of the SuperSonics.

The 30-year-old Durant has remained popular among Seattle sports fans and is expected to receive a rapturous ovation.

“It means a lot,” Durant said of playing in Seattle at last week’s team media day. “It means a lot. I spent a season there, and the fans were amazing to me my first year there. It was very devastating how we up and left in the middle of the night, and I know those fans have been yearning for basketball for a long, long time.”

“Even though it’s just a pre-season game and it’s one game, hopefully we can give them a nice little show for the night. But I’m looking forward to going back and playing in front of that crowd again, and I know my teammates are going to be excited as well. The energy is going to be amazing in the building.”