It’s no secret that the Verizon Center is considered the “home away from home” for almost every team in the league. With its team sitting at 4-27 and in arguably the most transient city in the United States, the Phone Booth serves as a haven for as many opposing fans as those who root for the home team (and sometimes more for the former).
Now usually this is something that bothers me. But I understand it. I never get too frustrated as it is simply part of the sporting culture and it’s just part of what this town offers to out-of-town residents and visitors.
But tonight at Verizon Center, it’s not going to bother me at all. In fact, I’d almost welcome it. The Washington Wizards take on the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight in a matchup of the NBA’s worst versus the NBA’s best.
But more importantly: the return of D.C. native Kevin Durant.
When the star of an opposing team (i.e. Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, etc) is introduced in the starting lineup, he’s usually met with a mixture of cheers and jeers. But tonight, even as a die-hard Wizards fan who still has hope, you’d have to be crazy to boo Kevin Durant after what he’s done for this city without even being on any Washington franchise team.
Born in D.C. and playing AAU ball in one of the nation’s hotbeds for basketball talent, Prince George’s County and then playing at another hotbed at Montrose Christian Academy in Rockville, Maryland, Kevin Durant defines D.C.
He’s one of the few superstars (in sports or entertainment) from the DMV who can actually say that he’s made it. He is a household name, but he still understands his roots.
Over the summer, as Team USA Basketball came to D.C. for practices and a scrimmage versus Brazil, Durant visited his old playground basketball court in the Barry Farm neighborhood in D.C. For those not native to D.C., it’s hard to see why this was such an impact to this area and especially to that neighborhood. The Anacostia/Southeast part of D.C. which Barry Farm is located in is typically considered the roughest part of D.C; but Durant, even with his superstar status, wanted to visit his childhood area and see the guys of the neighborhood on the blacktop.
Many people consider Washington franchise players such as Alex Ovechkin, RGIII, and John Wall (arguably) to be “DC Heroes”. But for some reason, Durant, at least in my mind, means more to this area than any of those players. He is someone who has tasted success in other towns but still supports the town and supporting area that many of us have lived all our lives.
Whether it’s his tweeting of encouragement for RGIII and the Redskins, his words of encouragement for the latest Wale project, or the simple statement of how happy he is to be back “home” whenever he lands in the D.C. area, Durant is the poster child of the DMV.
So I ask all the fans in attendance, no matter how hard it may be to cheer for a player in a uniform other than the Washington Wizards red, white and blue jersey, to give Kevin Durant the warmest welcome back applause tonight during the starting lineups.
After all, he’s done more than enough for this area to deserve it.