At long last, Kevin Durant made his much-anticipated return to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night. The 11-time All-Star had not played in a game since February 13, his lingering left hamstring strain forcing him to miss 23 straight games.
Still, the return of Durant means another third of Brooklyn’s Big Three is back in the mix. Before his injury sidelined him, Durant was posting MVP-caliber numbers with 29 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. His shooting efficiency also was MVP-worthy; KD shot 52.4 percent from the field, a career-high 43.4 percent from 3-point range and 86.9 percent from the free-throw line.
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Durant’s Mother in Attendance for His Return
Wednesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans marked Durant’s first game this season in front of Brooklyn fans; the Nets played without fans in the stands at Barclays Center through the first portion of their schedule due to COVID-19 safety measures.
To no real surprise, Durant’s return was met with a standing ovation from the Barclays Center crowd when he stepped onto the court midway through the second quarter.
ICYMI: Kevin Durant checking into the game to a big ovation from the Barclays Center crowd.
First time Durant is playing in-front of Nets fans in Brooklyn since joining the team. pic.twitter.com/63SK9aVX8y
— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) April 8, 2021
One fan stood out among the crowd. In her white jacket and sparkling mask, she rose to her feet before raising her arms as her son took to the floor.
Durant’s mother, Wanda, wasn’t going to miss this one.
Still the real MVP 🖤🤍 pic.twitter.com/6e0HNjLKHQ
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) April 8, 2021
The Real MVP
The Nets’ official twitter handle was on point with its caption about Durant finally returning to the hardwood, which included a video of Wanda cheering her son on.
Durant, after all, famously called his mom “the real MVP” during the speech he gave upon winning the 2014 MVP Award.
“I don’t think you know what you did,” Durant said in the speech, addressing his mother. “You had my brother when you were 18 years old. Three years later, I came out. The odds were stacked against us. Single parent with two boys by the time you were 21 years old. Everybody told us we weren’t supposed to be here. We went from apartment to apartment by ourselves. One of the best memories I had was when we moved into our first apartment, no bed, no furniture and we just sat in the living room and just hugged each other. We thought we made it.
“When something good happens to you, I don’t know about you guys, but I tend to look back to what brought me here. You wake me up in the middle of the night in the summer times, making me run up a hill, making me do push-ups, screaming at me from the sidelines of my games at 8 or 9 years old. We wasn’t supposed to be here. You made us believe. You kept us off the street. You put clothes on our backs, food on the table. When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You the real MVP.”
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Like He Never Left
Durant’s return to the Nets on Wednesday was nothing but encouraging. He showed no ill effects of the injury that sidelined him for about two months, moving smoothly and cutting sharply.
His impact was felt immediately. Durant, who came off the bench for just the second time in his NBA career, had nine points in seven minutes, 37 seconds to close out the half, and the Nets were plus-11 over that span. Then he opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to extend Brooklyn’s lead to 23 points.