With Kevin Durant visiting first NBA hometown, Warriors star advocates for Seattle franchise

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Kevin Durant, who began his professional career in the Pacific Northwest, believes the NBA should bring a team back to Seattle.

As the Golden State Warriors prepare for Friday night’s preseason game against the Sacramento Kings in KeyArena in Seattle, Durant is hopeful that the proud basketball hotbed will be home to an NBA team again soon.

“For sure,” Durant told ESPN. “Most definitely. It’s a basketball city. It’s a sports town. … They have a good representation of basketball in the NBA from Seattle-born players, Washington state-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.”

The Seattle SuperSonics selected Durant with the second pick in the 2007 draft. He played one season in Seattle before new owner Clay Bennett moved the team to Oklahoma City and named it the Thunder.

Durant has always spoken fondly of his time in Seattle and still feels a connection with his first professional home.

“I look back on it and picture what it would have been like to [still] live there and play there, but I had no control [over the move],” he said. “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.”

The Seattle visit, the first time an NBA game will have been held there in more than 10 years, has brought about a lot of excitement and nostalgia over the first week and a half of Warriors training camp.

“We should be in Seattle,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s sort of a no-brainer. It’s one of the top 10 [television] markets, I believe, in the United States. So a big TV market, Pacific Coast time slot, which would be great for TV purposes so we don’t get stuck with these 8:30 starts around the league, which is a result of kind of the domino effect of losing Seattle and Vancouver. There are fewer teams on the West Coast, now we got to create these West Coast time slots for ESPN and TNT.

“But the more important thing is just it’s a hotbed and people love the game and the Sonics were there for 41 years. We need a team in Seattle, but I’m not a proponent of expansion. I don’t think the league’s in a position now to expand because I don’t think the talent calls for that. But I do think Seattle’s the logical next choice for a team if there’s a move or if there is expansion. Seattle’s got to be number one on the list.”

Veteran point guard Shaun Livingston added: “Seattle is a great city. I wish — I hope that they get a team again. … There’s not too many guys left that know the SuperSonics, [that] Seattle was a great city, great place to play. But it should be a special homecoming for Kevin.”

Durant is expected to receive a raucous ovation Friday night in front of a big crowd that will likely wonder what it would have been like to watch his career unfold up close.

“It means a lot,” Durant said of playing in Seattle at last week’s media day. “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 preseason 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.”