SEATTLE — Kevin Durant got off the bus inside the loading dock of Key Arena about two hours before tipoff and made a quick glance toward the court, visible through the tunnel.
He was back where his NBA career began more than a decade ago.
“When I woke up from my pre-game nap I was nervous,” Durant said.
“I never felt that way coming into a game, especially a preseason game, but knowing this whole thing was set up for that moment I guess it was a crazy feeling to come out and feel that much love.”
Durant was back in Seattle on Friday night along with his Golden State Warriors for a preseason game against the Sacramento Kings for the first NBA game in the city since the Super Sonics left for Oklahoma City following the 2007-08 season.
It was an opportunity for the Seattle basketball community to gather once more before Key Arena becomes a construction site later this fall as part of a $700-million renovation that is expected to land the city an expansion NHL team, and has raised hopes of the NBA and the Sonics returning in the future.
The Warriors beat the Kings 122-96.
Klay Thompson scored 30 points. Durant had 26. None of that truly mattered.
“It was a very special atmosphere, very different from anything I’ve ever experienced,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
For three hours, Seattle said hello to the NBA once more while saying goodbye to a building in which the Sonics hung their only championship banner, the Seattle Storm won three WNBA titles and served as the epicenter for hoops in a basketball-crazed city.