It's been nearly four years since Kevin Durant made the decision to leave the Golden State Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2019, and during that time the two-time champion has yet to play at Chase Center in front of Warriors fans. It's an odd fact when you think about it, but for each scheduled matchup something has gotten in the way.
For the first year after leaving the Warriors, Durant was sidelined with a torn Achilles which cost him the entirety of the 2019-20 season. Following that year, Durant actually did play at Chase Center when the Nets faced the Warriors. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans weren't in attendance. The year after that, an MCL sprain sidelined Durant for Brooklyn's matchup in San Francisco, and before he was traded to the Phoenix Suns back in February another MCL sprain kept him out of the Nets road game against the Warriors.
He would've had another opportunity to play in front of Warriors fans Monday night when the Suns headed up to northern California, but a sprained ankle last week delayed the return yet again.
Prior to Monday's game, in which the Warriors won 123-112, Golden State head coach Steve Kerr reacted to Durant being out another game at Chase Center.
"It is nuts," Kerr said. "It is insane. It's been a while. It's been a while. How many years? Four years? This is the fourth year? And we've always kind of anticipated his return and we've always had a planned 'welcome back' video to thank him for everything he did for this franchise, and then literally every game, something comes up, or as you said, the pandemic."
"I remember the one game he did play with Brooklyn with no fans here. So it's a shame because I think our fans would give him a lot of love, the applause and the energy he deserves for everything he did for us."
In the three seasons Durant spent with Golden State he helped win the team two championships, and was named Finals MVP twice. The Warriors might've won a third-straight title if it hadn't been for Durant's torn Achilles in Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.
While the Suns and Warriors don't face each other again in the regular season, there is the possibility of the two teams facing each other in the postseason. If Durant is healthy, it is possible that his return in front of Warriors fans could come in what would undoubtedly be a highly competitive playoff game.