It’s no secret that the Giants have been struggling in the second half . Like many Giants fans have been jokingly speculating since July, maybe they just needed to get Kevin Durant. It just so happened that Durant was on hand to throw out the first pitch in Friday night’s game against the Giants’ Wild Card rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. As one would expect when Durant is around, magic soon followed. The Giants were aggressive in the third and fourth innings, ultimately winning the game 8-2.
Firstly, Durant met with the Bay Area and baseball’s foremost living legend, Willie Mays, who gave him some tips for throwing out the first pitch.
Then he met with some of the players, like noted Warriors fans Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford.
For Crawford, this was a huge deal. He grew up in Pleasanton, has been a life-long Giants and Warriors fan, a long-time Durant fan, and also wears #35. From all accounts, he was over the moon.
We feel you, Brandon. We feel you. So did these fans, whose days were surely made when Durant stopped to sign baseballs for them.
During the game, Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow and substitute broadcaster from CSN Bay Area, Greg Papa, spoke at length about Durant. They noted that this was not the first time Durant visited the Giants. In 2013 he stopped by while the Thunder were playing the Warriors because he has a mutual friend with (my personal favorite Giant) first baseman Brandon Belt, and is a big fan of catcher Buster Posey.
They noted that Durant spent a long time in the broadcasting booth, picking up information about the game and realizing that in baseball, the better team doesn't necessarily win. They shared a story about how Durant saw the Giants’ record and the Padres’ record and how he assumed it would be an easy win for the Giants.
Giants fans can tell you how the Padres aren’t always an easy win, even when they should be. They’ve been swept by them twice in the second half this year.
Overall, this is one of my favorite things about Durant. He has a genuine love and interest in all sports, an eagerness to experience and learn about all athletes. We saw this during the Olympics when he could regularly be found cheering for other members of Team USA.
He respects athletes from all walks of the world of sports and takes lessons from them all. The fact that he had an afternoon off in 2013 and chose to spend it watching an early-season baseball game across the bridge from where he was playing speaks to his passion for athleticism.
The broadcasters also mentioned how first pitches generally play out. The person comes out, throws the ball, then the player who caught it signs the ball and gives it back to the person. Not so much with Durant. Pitcher Albert Suárez did the honors, but afterwards asked Durant to sign the ball for him instead. No one is immune to the charm of Kevin Durant.
Next up, we can only hope he’ll continue his Bay Area welcome tour with a stop at his new neighbors’ house to see the A’s.