Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving weren’t exactly welcomed back with open arms in their first game against their respective former teams.
Durant, who signed with the Golden State Warriors in free agency two summers ago, received a helping of boos from the Thunder crowd in his first game back in Oklahoma City. Not to mention, OKC gave Durant’s old No. 35 to an undrafted rookie who currently is playing in the NBA G League.
Irving, on the other hand, was supposed to have a tribute video played for him when the Boston Celtics took on the Cleveland Cavaliers on opening night. The Cavs ultimately decided not to air the montage, though, and there reportedly were a number of Cleveland players who were irked that there even was a video made in the first place.
It’s not a rule that teams must honor their former players, but Tony Allen believes it to be a classy gesture that should take place. The New Orleans Pelicans guard was on hand for the Sacramento Kings’ tribute to DeMarcus Cousins last week, which drew league-wide kudos. Allen, a 14-year NBA veteran, appears to believe the Thunder and Cavs both could learn a thing or two from the Kings.
“That’s kind of being petty for the organization,” Allen told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears. “It’s premeditated. They (Thunder) thought about doing that before you even came back. To give (Durant’s No. 35) jersey away (to another player), a guy who has been in multiple MVP conversations, scoring champs, got those guys to the (2012 Finals) … And another guy like Kyrie, who won a championship for those people, it’s a sign of disrespect and a sign of pettiness.”
It won’t be too long before Allen himself is honored by one of his former teams. The Memphis Grizzlies already have announced they will retire Allen and Zach Randolph’s numbers whenever the “Grit ‘N Grind” pillars retire.
Thumbnail photo via Justin Ford/USA TODAY Sports Images