LOS ANGELES — Even in a jersey with “USA” on the chest, Kevin Durant got some boos at Staples Center on Sunday night.
He’ll probably need to get used to that sound in this building for the rest of his basketball career.
When he suits up in Oakland on Tuesday for the first time since joining the Golden State Warriors, he’ll get another reception entirely.
But no hate or love from the stands is going to deter Durant from trying to win a gold medal or an NBA title.
“The crowd here tonight was great, so hopefully it’s just as good at Oracle,” Durant said after scoring 19 points at a packed Staples Center during the Americans’ 106-57 victory over China in the second stop of a five-game pre-Olympics showcase.
When told he had been booed in pregame introductions, Durant seemed surprised: “No, I didn’t hear it. I did? Huh. I didn’t hear it.”
The Los Angeles fans were gathered to cheer for the Americans during an exhibition blowout, but some of them couldn’t resist jabbing at the newest member of the Warriors and his two-team teammate, Draymond Green. The Clippers fans in the crowd supported the red, white and blue — but those colors represent something else to them for most of the year, and they let their new nemesis know it.
Golden State general manager Bob Myers was in attendance to see his newest signing’s performance alongside Green and Klay Thompson, who scored 17 points in another impressive exhibition victory for the gold medal favorites.
Myers was surprised by the boos, but only to a point.
“I think it’s Clipper fans, because they cheered DeAndre [Jordan],” Myers said. “That’s just my guess.”
The Clippers have a fierce rivalry with the Warriors, but it seems increasingly likely Durant will be a magnet for boos throughout the league after spurning Oklahoma City to chase a championship with Stephen Curry in Oakland.
He’ll return to his new home in the East Bay for what’s likely to be a less hostile reception before the Americans’ next exhibition, also against China.
“He won’t get booed on Tuesday,” Myers said dryly.
Durant isn’t taking anything for granted. He is just beginning to grasp the enormity of his move in the eyes of fans and opponents. The gifted scorer and former MVP has been widely popular around the game for most of his career, but his decision this month has made him a target of jealousy, frustration and even derision — and not even a Team USA jersey can deflect it.
“I’m excited to go to Oakland as a member of the Warriors,” Durant said. “We’ll see. I don’t know what to expect. I’m just going to go up there, be my normal self and do my normal routine.”
Durant could need months to feel normal in a Warriors uniform, but he’s getting a valuable head start during this six-week attempt to win his second gold medal in Rio de Janeiro.
While Curry decided to skip the Olympics, Green and Thompson will be with Durant for the duration, building chemistry and togetherness as the second trio of NBA teammates to play Olympic hoops together since the NBA joined the Games in 1992.
Durant, Green and Thompson were all on court together for the first time last Friday during the U.S. blowout of Argentina in Las Vegas.
“When you’re out there right now, you don’t even think about the fact that we are teammates,” Green said. “I didn’t even notice that me, Klay and K.D. were out there together. … To be on the same team competing for the same goal, it’s definitely something that at first is weird, but then when you get around all these guys, and it is such a great group of guys, down-to-earth, fun to hang around with, it makes everything more fun.”