OAKLAND — Sitting on the floor at Oracle Arena, with his dark gray hoodie draped over his head, Kevin Durant looked like he wanted to hide as the chants rained down.
Finally, his new boss bailed him out.
“Listen,” explained Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who was doubling as the emcee for the team’s open practice on Wednesday night. “He’s been in the league for like 10 years. He’s not going to sing, but I think you’ll like what he’ll do on the court this year.”
Moments earlier, Damian Jones and Patrick McCaw had sung — as is the tradition for all rookies at the team’s annual preseason practice for the fans.
“I think they enjoyed the singing more than the practice,” Kerr joked afterwards. “But that’s the main thing — is the players being out there connecting with the fans.”
A staggering number of fans had poured into the area, as 13,500 of them filled large swaths of the lower and upper bowls. It was a record attendance for the event and a better turnout than what the Oakland Athletics — their neighbors across the parking lot — draw on an average Wednesday night for an actual game.
“Some of these fans that were here tonight probably don’t get to come to games,” Kerr said.
Tickets cost $5 — with all proceeds going to the Warriors Community Foundation — and parking was free.
“So it’s a great chance for them to experience Oracle and kind of see out guys up close.”
That the glorified practice — consisting primarily of Warriors stars running through warmups and dribbling through drills at ultra-slow speeds — was such a hit served as a reminder of just how far the organization has come.
“When I was a rookie, I don’t think a quarter of the stadium was full,” Klay Thompson recalled. “So, it was really cool to see an open practice get that kind of turnout. We appreciate the fans for that and we appreciate our rookies for putting on a good show.”
“There’s so many new Warriors fans out there — not just in the Bay. It’s easy to say we have the best fans in the NBA,” Thompson said. “A lot of people say it, but I really believe it.”
Kerr appreciates vocabulary
Kerr had some fun when asked if had to be “judicious” about using Steph Curry to run screens for Durant.
“If I was Charles Barkley I would say, ‘I don’t know what judicious means, but if it’s good we’re going to do more of it,’” Kerr cracked. “But I’m not Charles, so I can’t really say that.” I just like the fact that you used the word judicious in the question. It’s awesome.”