Thunder fans finding ways to cope with Durant loss

Kevin Durant AFP PHOTO

Kevin Durant AFP PHOTO

J.D. Smith saw the reactions and couldn’t understand.

Kevin Durant’s decision came down at 10:39 a.m. central on July 4. Minutes later, online videos circulated of people burning, urinating on and unloading rounds of ammunition into No. 35 apparel.

“I thought ‘man, why don’t you do something positive with them,’ ” Smith said. “I could just take that to the hospital I work at and donate a few things.”

With Durant off to Golden State, you’d expect mass mourning of the greatest player in Thunder history. There’s certainly been some, but OKC fans — particularly Oklahomans — have shown resilience and forward thinking since that fateful July 4.

As Durant went on to get blasted by analysts such as Reggie Miller and Stephen A. Smith, those closest to the emotional wreckage were looking forward.

Emails poured into The Oklahoman, most asking “what’s next?” rather than “what now?”

“I’m heartbroken to say the least,” wrote Kim Mitchell, 54, of Oklahoma City. “I think we will always be grateful as fans and community, but from now on the minute the ball hits the court he’s on the opposing team and will receive OKC fan treatment as such.

“I’m excited to see what Sam will do. I’ve got to think he has a plan.”

It hasn’t been a week, and the questions have shifted swiftly to the Thunder front office’s plan.

What about Russell Westbrook? What about Dion Waiters?

Heck … what about Rudy Gay?

Some of the Thunder fan base is playing virtual GM, seemingly trying to shift its focus to trading for a small forward who’s never made an All-Star Team (Gay) rather than sulking about the future Hall of Famer who’s departed. That’s not a knock on Gay, the 6-foot-9 starter for Sacramento, but a sampling of the mindset of Thunder fans, an encapsulation of team over individual.

It’s not that easy for all to move on.

Andy Greene is an Oklahoma City native and Thunder season ticket holder who brings a family of five to Chesapeake Energy Arena. His 9-year-old son, Max, has been an honorary team captain at a Thunder game. Max has met Durant and Chris Paul. He’s decked himself out in KD gear from head to toe.

Max can’t grasp why Durant has gone to Golden State. The jersey, the shoes … they’re all packed up and “ready for the next garage sale,” Andy said.

“KD, the face of Anti-Warrior Nation (in Maxwell’s mind) joining the enemy … it’s as hard to calculate as Algebra to him,” Andy said.

“When he asks me to help him understand, I thought and thought and decided to go do some Algebra.”



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