Five Moments Connecting Kevin Durant to the Toronto Raptors

In many ways, Kevin Durant has been tied to the Raptors for nearly a decade. While Toronto would still be among the strong contenders for the 12-time NBA star, who requested a trade from Brooklyn, we take a look at five moments connecting the Raptors franchise to Durant:

A long-standing affair

In 2013, long before the Raptors began the climb that would lead them to the 2019 NBA Championship, Durant spoke about his infatuation with the franchise.

“Believe it or not, I wanted to play for the Toronto Raptors. They were my favorite team,” he told The Dan Patrick Show.

The reason? Vince Carter.

“He showed his enthusiasm, just his athleticism, and how he took Toronto from being one of the new teams in the league to almost making it to the finals. He changed the culture there in Toronto.

A brilliant night

Durant put in one of the best performances ever at what was then known as the Air Canada Center in May 2014.

As a member of the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder in a season that would end with the NBA MVP title, Durant hit a deep three-pointer 1.7 seconds from the second overtime buzzer in the win. 119-118 from OKC.

The shot gave Durant 51 points with 12 rebounds and seven assists. He played 53 of the game’s 58 minutes and said afterward that it was « the craziest game » he had ever been in and that he « had to get out of there ».

An expensive cry

Durant showed up at the 2014 OVO Fest concert and newly appointed but unpaid « global ambassador » Drake said hello during his set.

“My brother Kevin Durant was kind enough to come to the show tonight and watch us,” Drake said as onlookers let out a “KD” chant. « I just want him to see what would happen if he came to play in Toronto. »

Expensive time, however. The Raptors were later fined $25,000 (US) for improperly recruiting a player under contract to another team.

A battle for the ages

Watching two of the league’s best players face off in November 2018 gave Raptors fans a taste of what was to come during the season.

Durant had his second 51-point game against the Raptors and was brilliant, but Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard outplayed him, scoring 37 points as the Raptors recorded a grueling 131-128 overtime win.

« What a game, » Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. « An amazing basketball game for fans to watch. »

A bittersweet night

After missing the first four games of the 2019 NBA Finals while recovering from injury, Durant returned for Game 5 with the Golden State Warriors at the Air Canada Center against the Raptors.

With his team facing a 3-1 deficit, Durant’s comeback was spectacular early on. He had 11 points – including three three-pointers – in the first quarter alone. But disaster struck in the second quarter when Durant suffered a torn Achilles tendon that would rule him out for the entire 2019-20 season.

It was a moment shrouded in controversy as some Raptors fans cheered, originally thinking Toronto’s Serge Ibaka stole the ball from Durant to trigger a break, not realizing the extent of Durant’s injury.

And while the Warriors would win Game 5, the “what if” scenario that Durant would be healthy for Game 6 will forever go unanswered.


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