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Sinking ship no more: Jerami Grant’s return to OKC changed his opinion of this Thunder team

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NBA: Denver Nuggets at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

When Denver Nuggets forward Jerami Grant played against the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night, almost everything about the experience seemed different.

He was not in the starting line up for the first time since January, he’s coming off an all-star break that was seemingly endless and for the first time this season he played against his former team in Chesapeake Energy Arena. This return had some fans debating over how Grant would be received.

While it didn’t seem like Thunder fans would give Grant a Durant-esque berating by any means, some were questioning Grant’s legacy in OKC due to the comments he made about the team back in September.

After Grant was traded to Denver, he was quick to discount his former team’s upcoming season.

“I don’t think it was too difficult,” Grant said to Harrison Wind of DNVR sports. “There were some things going on in Oklahoma and they kind of got rid of a lot of different pieces. For me it was almost good to get out of a sinking ship.”

These comments sat with Thunder fans for months and Friday was their opportunity to finally respond to Grant. How did Loud City react? With emphatic praise.

Even before the game started, Grant was receiving plaudits for his three year tenure in Oklahoma City.

“We miss you,” one fan said to Grant.

While the pregame praise was personal and touching, the in-game applause was thunderous— with some even comparing it to Serge Ibaka’s return.

Off-court narrative aside, the Thunder got the best of Grant and his Nuggets as they sealed a 113-101 victory. Grant didn’t have his best performance, scoring six points on 1-for-6 shooting, but he said he was happy to be back in Oklahoma.

“I love the fans here,” Grant said in the post game press conference. “I’ve got a bunch of great memories here. So I think it was definitely good.”

The Thunder now own a 34-22 record, the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference and a 1-1 record vs. the No. 2 seed Nuggets. The team has utilized great ball movement, off-ball screens and impressive shot creation to propel them to this unexpected season.

In the end, Grant seemed impressed with the atmosphere, the fans and the team he played against in Oklahoma City on Friday. He even came full circle, admitting that this Thunder team is talented.

“I mean they’re talented,” Grant said. “It’s a completely different team. They got a lot of pieces, things like that.”