NBA 2013-14 MVP Kevin Durant announced his decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors on July 4, and every sports pundit from here to Boston has shared their two cents. But I have a different, perhaps more personal reason why I believe KD made a mistake in choosing to leave OKC.
In 2013, my hometown of Moore, Oklahoma, was hit by an EF5 tornado, leaving a 17-mile long and 1.3-mile wide path of devastation. With winds reaching 210 mph, the storm killed 24 people and injured 377. Like all other storms that have devastated Oklahoma, and in particular Moore, the citizens started picking up the pieces immediately after the storm passed. Among those helping was KD. And I’m not just talking about his one million dollar donation for the storm relief fund. He also visited the site, consoled people and gave them hope. He put his arms around people in their time of need and told them it would all be okay.
This was the one example that hit close to home for me, but there are numerous stories about KD visiting hospitals, donating money, building basketball courts, and giving thousands to local schools and children. He had become a staple in the OKC community. He was a leader who brought us all hope, and now he’s gone.
After the news of his departure, Thunder fans were devastated. For many, it was about basketball. But for the rest of us, it was about the man. We came to rely on him for hope, guidance and support. Don’t get me wrong; I am the first to wish him the best with his new journey. I realize that he had to do what was right for him personally, but when a person becomes such an important part of a community, losing him to another community is hard to swallow.
So while many will remember him for his point totals and the number of games he won, there are those of us who will remember him walking the streets of Oklahoma with his arms open wide and his heart opened wider. KD will bring his kind heart and generous spirit to another venue and another city, but he will eventually learn that he will never be more beloved than he was in OKC.
Collegian Arts and Culture Editor Randi Mattox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @randimattox.