By Janie McCauley Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant spent his basketball off day at the San Francisco Giants’ ballpark on a spectacular Bay Area afternoon, signing autographs and meeting players Wednesday.
“It’s a great day,” Durant said in the dugout. “I’m looking forward to it.”
He insists he can learn from watching the best in another sport — and Durant followed the Giants’ run to the World Series title last fall, the second for the franchise in three years.
San Francisco became the first team in major league history to rally back from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five playoff series by winning three straight road games, which the Giants did in Cincinnati.
“Just watching the game, I saw these guys win the World Series and the road they took,” Durant said. “You can kind of take some things to put into our game, how they fought from games down, how they came together as a team. They’ve been playing at a championship level for a while now. It’s good to see.”
Durant, in town to face the playoff-bound Golden State Warriors tonight, was especially eager to watch reigning NL MVP and batting champion Buster Posey because “I just like his intensity.”
The NBA’s second-leading scorer, Durant attended the Giants’ series finale against the Colorado Rockies in his first visit to AT&T Park — along with teammate Nick Collison and other representatives of the Thunder. Durant also posed for a photo with World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval near the indoor batting cage and then with others during a quick visit to the clubhouse. Right fielder Hunter Pence presented Durant with a signed bat.
“My teammates were anxious to come, so we’re coming out to support,” Durant said. “Every chance I get I try to (watch). It’s tough when we’re in season. I’m a big Nationals fan, but I’m also a Giants fan as well.”
The 6-foot-9 Durant is a former high school first baseman who acknowledges he lacked a power stroke.
“I never swung the bat too well,” he said with a smile.
Durant’s former Texas Longhorns teammate, Damion James, played with Giants first baseman Brandon Belt when they were kids growing up in Texas.
Durant knows tonight’s game at Oracle Arena will be a challenge for the Thunder (57-21), still in the chase for the No. 1 overall seed in the Western Conference. The Warriors clinched just their second playoff berth since 1994 on Tuesday night.
“They’ve been playing well,” Durant said. “We’re going to have a tough test with them tomorrow.”