Cue that awesome stormtrooper, because it’s time to talk traitors.
Kevin Durant, a newly minted Golden State Warrior, will make his long awaited return to Oklahoma City tonight, months after spurning the team he helped put on the NBA map for the superteam experiment in Oakland. In anticipation of the oh so rational Thunder fans, who burnt his jersey when the signing was announced last summer, Durant has hired extra security for tonight’s game.
Here’s how some of the other notable “traitors” in sports have fared in their first games back to the scene of the crime.
I mean this just has to be the epitome of anticipated former athlete returns, right? Five months after declaring he would “take (his) talents to South Beach” on national television, forever changing his public image. Needless to say, the non-South Beach team in the equation, the Cleveland Cavaliers, was not too pleased about this choice, burning jerseys, and prompting owner Dan Gilbert to send out an open letter promising that the Cavs, who, remember, were armed with Mo Williams and Anderson Varejo, would win an NBA title before James and his new teammates would. A hearty dose of reality came to Gilbert in James’s first game back in December 2010, where he was booed relentlessly, as the Heat won 118-90. James himself led the way, tallying 38 points and 8 assists. For some reason, Cavs fans don’t seem to mind James as much anymore…
It wasn’t enough that Favre, a staple under center for the Packers’ glory days of the 1990’s and 2000’s, had a much publicized divorce with Green Bay when they opted for a younger man in Aaron Rodgers. After one year with the New York Jets, Favre signed with the Packers’ hated rival in Minnesota, where he enjoyed a resurgent year with the Vikings. In one of the few showdowns between Favre and Rodgers, Packers fans, for the first time, booed Favre touchdowns, as the gunslinger threw four in what became a 38-26 Vikings win. Green Bay, however, earned the last laugh, as Favre’s interception late in the NFC Championship Game cost the Vikings a Super Bowl trip, and Rodgers earned MVP honors in a Super Bowl XLV victory the very next season. Things considerably cooled later, and Favre had his number retired earlier this season.
It’s disappointing enough that Owens didn’t earn a Hall of Fame nod, but his first, highly publicized return to Philadelphia was even worse, made as a member of the Dallas Cowboys in October 2006. Fans serenaded Owens with not just the usual boos and expletives, but also chats of “O.D.”, referencing Owens’s accidental drug overdose in the weeks prior. In a back and forth affair, Owens, who had trash talked Philadelphia’s strong secondary leading up to the game, was mostly neutralized, making just 3 catches for 45 yards. Philadelphia eventually prevailed 38-24.
With some of his more, championship moments occurring in pinstripes, it’s easy to forget that Clemens originally was a member of the Boston Red Sox, spending a majority of his career there until spending two seasons in Toronto starting in 1997. He went to the Yankees in 1999 via a trade, right as the Bronx Bombers were in the midst of their late 90’s dynasty. Clemens’s first start against the Red Sox, in the Bronx, Clemens pitched well, going 7 innings and striking out 7 while earning a win, but the first visit in pinstripes to Boston could’ve gone better. He lasted only 5 innings, allowing 4 earned runs and striking out only 2 in what eventually became a no-decision, though Boston won the game 6-5. Clemens would earn his first career World Series ring that fall.
Believe or not, there was a time Bill Belichick was the head coach of the New York Jets, a time that lasted all of one day, as Belichick famously decreed he “resign(ed) as HC of the NYJ” shortly after he was hired. Believe it or not, there was also a time Bill Belichick teams went 5-11 and lost to the Jets, as was the case in his highly publicized return to the New York City area in a Week 2 Monday Night game in 2000. To make matters worse, the Patriots blew a 19-7 4th quarter lead, a pair of Wayne Chrebet touchdown grabs completing the comeback. Since then, Belichick has gone 23-10, including playoffs, against the Jets.