He was booed (predictably).
Russell Westbrook tried to be a hero (predictably).
And Durant got the last laugh in a 130-114 win for the Warriors, in which he scored 34 points in 33 minutes (also predictably).
It doesn’t always happen that way, of course. In fact, in the past 20 years of Minnesota sports history, athletes who used to play for local teams before leaving have pretty much run the gamut in how their return games played out. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights, in chronological order of their first game back:
Stephon Marbury — Feb. 20, 2000: The former Timberwolves guard returned to Minnesota with the Nets for the first time since forcing a trade and breaking the hearts of many fans who had visions of a Kevin Garnett/Marbury duo dominating for years to come. Marbury, perhaps the most Westbrook-like player in Wolves history, had a very Durant-like return. He scored 39 points amid a chorus of boos from Wolves fans, leading the Nets to a 91-89 victory. Garnett went just 9 for 33 from the field, calling it a “tough, tough game” afterwards.
Chuck Knoblauch — May 2, 2001: Technically, Knoblauch’s first game back with the Yankees after being traded by the Twins was May 8, 1998. But nobody remembers that. Everybody remembers the game three years later, when angry Twins fans — awakening after years of slumber while Minnesota was terrible — pelted the field with dollar hot dogs (and worse) when the Twins played the Yankees. It was so bad that Tom Kelly had to come out to left field to plead with fans. I was at that game. I was sitting in left field. I did not throw anything. I stand by that story. (It’s true).
David Ortiz — May 10, 2003: For as much as Big Papi would rip the Twins over the years for letting him go, his return to Minnesota for the first time with the Red Sox was remarkably low-key. He went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in a 6-5 Boston victory. He was hitting just .217 with one home run at that point. From July 3 through the end of the season, though, Ortiz cranked 27 home runs. And the regret started to sink in for Twins fans.
Torii Hunter — March 31, 2008: This shows how much being well-liked during your time here can carry over. Hunter, even after signing as a free agent with the Angels after the 2007 season, was showered with applause in his first game back in Minnesota — which happened on Opening Day that season at the Metrodome. Hunter went 0-for-4 and the Twins won 3-2.
Kevin Garnett — Nov. 21, 2008: This one was strangely anti-climactic, since Garnett missed his first game back at Target Center with the Celtics due to injury the previous season. By the time he came back for the 2008-09 season, he had won a championship with the Celtics. The Wolves, meanwhile, were going the opposite direction. That was clear enough when KG scored 17 points in an easy Boston victory.
Carlos Gomez — May 21, 2010: The script couldn’t have played out any more aptly. Gomez came back to Target Field with his new team, the Brewers, and crushed a three-run homer in his first game — trimming a 15-0 Twins lead to 15-3 in the eighth inning. The game situation didn’t stop Gomez from flinging his bat and admiring the blast, drawing the ire of his former teammates. “Things never change,” said Ron Gardenhire, the Twins manager at the time.
Marian Gaborik — Nov. 20, 2010: After spurning the Wild’s lucrative contract offer and signing with the Rangers, Gaborik was booed every time he touched the puck in his first game back with New York. The Rangers, though, prevailed 5-2 and Gaborik had an assist in the game. “Finally, it’s over with,” Gaborik said afterward, admitting he was nervous beforehand.
Randy Moss — Sept. 23, 2012: This one was pretty anticlimactic by the time it finally happened nearly eight years after Moss was traded by the Vikings (and two years after they traded for him and released him). He never faced his former team in the regular season — home or away — until his final season with the 49ers in 2012. He caught three passes for 27 yards, and the Vikings won 24-13.
Percy Harvin — Dec. 7, 2014: The mercurial wide receiver returned to play the Vikings for the first time (at TCF Bank Stadium) and had a big game for the Jets. In fact, his 124 yards receiving still stand as his most recent 100-yard game. Harvin was booed throughout, and the Vikings got the last laugh when Jarius Wright scored on a very Harvin-esque 87-yard catch and run TD in overtime.
Kevin Love — Jan. 31, 2015: Given Love’s departure from Minnesota was one of the most acrimonious partings in local sports history, it was no surprise that the forward was booed lustily in his first game at Target Center with the Cavaliers. Love managed 14 points and 17 rebounds in an easy Cavaliers victory. Fans won’t get a chance to revive those boos when Cleveland plays in Minnesota on Tuesday, as Love has already been ruled out win an injury. But hey, it likely means another former Wolves forward — Derrick Williams — will get more playing time.