On Wednesday night, Anthony Davis will make his highly anticipated return to his former home of New Orleans. Given the way in which he left — by announcing he would not re-sign with the Pelicans and demanding a trade — the odds of him receiving a warm welcome are, well, low.
In fact, there’s probably a greater chance of Golden State reclaiming the NBA title this season than there is of Davis being greeted with anything less than a resounding chorus of boos. Sorry to drag you into this, Warriors fans: It’s not your fault.
While there’s likely little The Brow can do to quell the hostile environment (aside from putting up ridiculous numbers to quiet the crowd), he can take solace in knowing that he is far from the first athlete to go from beloved to disdained by an organization’s entire fan base.
Seriously, if we included every contentious homecoming in sports, this article would start to drag on longer than that awkward conversation with the relative who corners you at Thanksgiving when all you wanted was for them to pass the mashed potatoes. So instead we’ll just regale you with some of the most memorable ones from over the years. … This one’s for you, AD.
LeBron James in Cleveland, 2010
LeBron James went from hailed as a hero to jeered as a villain quicker than the writers of “Game of Thrones.”
The environment was nothing short of combative as LeBron James returned to Cleveland for the first time as a member of the Miami Heat. The feelings of betrayal, disappointment and vitriol directed at him were tangible in the arena — and in the city as a whole.
LeBron wasn’t just the most popular sports figure in town, he was one of their own. So his departure for South Beach brought about a different level of anguish to the championship-starved city whose hopes and dreams rested upon his shoulders.
The “kid from Akron” was showered in boos and obscenities from former fans. Some of them threw things (including beverages and a battery) while others held signs reading things such as: “Quitness,” “Witnessed No Championship,” along with the more straightforward “I Hate LeBron.” According to the team, four fans were ejected and one was arrested that night.
King James powered through the animosity to score 38 points en route to a 118-90 Heat win.
Bryce Harper in Washington, 2019
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) April 2, 2019
From favored son to public enemy No. 1. Bryce Harper, who left the Nationals to sign a record-breaking 13-year, $330 million deal with National League East rival Philadelphia over the offseason, didn’t garner an exceptionally warm welcome when he returned to Nationals Park for the first time.
Fans showered him with boos during a pregame tribute video, then cheered loudly as ace Max Scherzer struck him out in his first at-bat. The heckling didn’t sit well with Harper as he called fans out after the game saying they “crossed the line.”
Some will argue this reception was petty as Harper simply went to the highest bidder; others will say loyalty should count for something.
We’ll just say this: The Nationals went on to win the World Series the season after he left.
Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City, 2017
Thunder fans booing KD as he takes the floor pregame. pic.twitter.com/ViwMSeA31X
— Tim Cato (@tim_cato) February 12, 2017
Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: A game to live in NBA infamy. No departure had caused such a ruckus around the Association since King James was hounded for “The Decision.”
You didn’t have to spend much time in OKC to see just how much Kevin Durant meant to the city — the guy even had a restaurant named after him (the establishment closed in the wake of his departure but has since reopened with a different name