Kevin Durant has, in the past two years, morphed from a lovable softie — crying and calling his mother “the real MVP” in Oklahoma City — to the next Rasheed Wallace in Oakland, where his fiery outbursts are leading to technical fouls and ejections by the bucketload.
During warmups before Golden State’s 109-105 win over the Celtics on Saturday, that aggressive nature got Durant in trouble when he punched a loose ball into the stands. The ball struck a 75-year-old veteran in the face.
So Kevin Durant punched a ball into the air pregame and hit a fan in the head. Kevin apologized, brought the fan to the locker room later, signed some shoes (ESPN) pic.twitter.com/LUcupgfKbi
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 28, 2018
The fan, Joseph Franzia, has certainly been hit by a lot worse. You don’t get three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star in Vietnam for sitting around behind the lines pushing paperwork, and Franzia is a tough-as-nails United States Marine Corps combat veteran.
And if that last name sounds familiar, you’ve no doubt seen it on a cardboard box full of Northern California’s most famous adult libation. Franzia is a member of the winemaking family.
Franzia’s family is no longer in the boxed wine business, having sold off that business 40 years ago. Today, the family has moved into putting cheap wine into bottles; their Bronco Wine Company makes Trader Joe’s famous Two-Buck Chuck.
And with a bit of basketball diplomacy, all was well. Durant invited Franzia into the locker room, where he presented the veteran with a signed pair of shoes.
Franzia, for his part, invited Durant to his the vineyard to share a glass or two of wine and enjoy a bit of VIP treatment in Napa Valley.
Marc J. Spears of ESPN got a picture of Franzia smiling with his new souvenir.
Joseph Franzia is feeling a lot better now and is about to visit with Kevin Durant after pre-game accident being hit by wayward ball. pic.twitter.com/xzhibqhSlW
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) January 28, 2018
Before the contest, Franzia told Durant that “you better win the game,” hoping to provide some motivation to the home team.
Durant, for his part, scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the win.
But as fine food and drink go, it was Chef Curry, as in Steph, who served up the main course, scoring 49 points and hitting eight three-pointers to seal the deal. Maybe Franzia should send a few bottles of the best his vineyard has to offer to Curry’s wife Ayesha for her “Ayesha’s Home Cooking” TV show.
Franzia is giving the shoes away to his son, who is a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Then again, with how bad the Cavs have been lately, maybe some signed memorabilia will help to ease the pain of what is fast becoming a lost season for Cleveland.
In any event, Franzia is fine, Durant’s team won, and all’s well that ends well.
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