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A Sonic’s homecoming: Fans pack KeyArena to see Kevin Durant play again

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 5, 2018, 11:11 p.m.

By Percy Allen Seattle Times

SEATTLE – For one night, Kevin Durant had them in his clutches again.

The 19-year-old kid is all grown up now, but he still knows how to put on a show.

Sonics fans, who celebrated his memorable rookie campaign during a forgettable season 10 years ago with the Seattle team, once again cheered his every move in Friday’s exhibition at KeyArena that felt like a long walk down memory lane.

Durant got nostalgic when he came out for player introductions wearing green-and-gold sneakers and an old-school No. 40 Shawn Kemp jersey before addressing the sold-out crowd, also clad in Sonics gear.

“Thank you guys, for coming out and showing your support,” Durant said. “It means everything to me.”

Of course, the Sonics fans never blamed Durant, then a first-year phenom, for the messy divorce between the city and the NBA that resulted in the team leaving for Oklahoma City.

And during his brilliant NBA career that has included two NBA titles, two Finals MVP awards and four scoring titles, Durant had been a vocal proponent of the league returning to Seattle.

On Friday night, the future Hall of Famer reminded Seattle of what it once had and what it lost.

It hardly mattered that the Warriors played without All-Stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.

Durant and Klay Thompson, another All-Star, were more than enough to overwhelm the Kings while providing a handful of crowd-pleasing plays.

As for the game, the Warriors led 21-6 when Thompson splashed a three-pointer with 5:45 left in the first quarter.

Golden State led 74-44 at halftime and Durant exited with 3:54 left in the third quarter after scoring 26 points and staking the Warriors to a 96-57 lead. Thompson finished with a game-high 30.

Durant spent the rest of the game sitting on the baseline as the reserves mopped up a 122-94 victory.

But Durant’s return home was only half the story.

Throughout the night, the roars grew louder as familiar faces appeared on the giant screen hanging above the court.

This wasn’t just an NBA exhibition Friday night as much as a Sonics homecoming, and a chance for the franchise’s greatest stars to mix and mingle with some of Seattle’s brightest sports and entertainment stars.

It was a who’s who in the front-row seats.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson sat next to basketball Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens, who was seated near Storm stars Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.

A few feet away, the courtside seats were occupied by NBA great Bill Russell, Sonics legend Gary Payton, Seattle-raised NBA star Jamal Crawford, Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner and Mariners star Robinson Cano.

At times, the sports luminaries in the stands eclipsed the stars on the court when Durant and Thompson left the floor.

Halftime produced several minutes of spectacular star-gazing.

Rapper Macklemore chatted with Wagner. Payton reconnected with former Sonics teammate Detlef Schrempf. Golden State coach Steve Kerr laughed and shared jokes with Sonics great Fred Brown and Wilkens.

And Durant came out of halftime early and took what seemed like a thousand selfies on the court with old friends and fans.

“Every NBA player at this point knows that Seattle needs a basketball team,” Durant said earlier.

He added: “I can’t wait to see another team come here and call this city their home.”

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