Fresh from leading the Golden State Warriors to its sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the recently concluded NBA finals, Kevin Durant is headed to Manila for a promotional tour.
The visit on July 8 is his first time in Manila since his controversial and much-criticized decision to play for the Warriors.
Durant will be stepping on Philippine soil once more as part of a promotional tour for Nike. It is his first visit to Manila since the Smart Ultimate All-Star Weekend back in 2011, where he and other NBA superstars played in an exhibition game against the Smart Gilas Pilipinas National Team.
The two-time Finals Most Valuable Player is expected to meet fans at an event at the Nike Fort Park in Bonifacio Global City and and appear at an all-star challenge event at the Araneta Coliseum.
Durant led the Warriors with 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 2.3 blocks in their four-game sweep of the Cavaliers. He won his first Finals MVP with the Warriors the previous year.
Fans are abuzz with the news of his arrival. Registration for his event was already at full capacity barely 24 hours after the news broke.
First time ni KD sa manila. Huhu. Sold out ticket agad. Birthday gift na sana sakin to oh. ☹️☹️☹️☹️☹️????? @KDTrey5 pic.twitter.com/5BzyIiNfJ1
— ɢᴏᴏᴅ sᴏɴ (@JoshmanPH) July 1, 2018
Not everyone is pumped for his return.
A 6’9 forward with the destructive ability to score from just about anywhere he pleased, Durant has received much criticism for his decision to transfer to the Warriors back in 2016. Prior to his stint for the Bay Area-based squad, Durant was the pioneer star for the Oklahoma City Thunder, for years considered the rising power in the Western Conference
With future MVPs Russell Westbrook and James Harden, Durant formed the youthful backbone of the fledgling Thunder franchise. In 2014, Durant won his first regular season MVP, giving a heartfelt message of thanks to both his teammates and fans of the franchise.
Two years of futility later, Durant decided to enter free agency and sign with the Warriors, considered the Thunder’s rival and greatest tormentor.
Durant was widely panned for his decision, with fans, fellow players and analysts accusing him of riding on the Warriors’ already talent-laden lineup and betraying the Thunder fanbase.
While some continue to accuse Durant of disloyalty and of starting the demand for “super teams” in the league, the move has translated to success in his career. He is currently among the 11 players who have won multiple Finals MVP awards, considered the mark of legendary status in the league.