If Durant isn't up for hosting duty, there's no shortage of luxe
hotels nearby. The W Seattle earns high marks for its urban style
and spa facilities, while the Fairmont Olympic Hotel offers
old-school luxury. Hotel Max, known in a prior incarnation as the
Vance Hotel, boasts quirk to spare - in its artistic decor,
multiple pillow choices, and "spiritual menu" (their words, not
ours). "I hope [my former teammates] stay with me, though," Durant
adds with a laugh. And then, with a half skip, he's back off to the
After having been poked and posed for the past two hours, Bird and
Durant have more or less exhausted their small-talk allowances. But
when they sit down together in the near-empty Key Arena for a few
brief minutes, the back-and-forth flows freely. A quick question
about clubs in the area - Bird points Durant toward the O'Asian and
the futuristic Venom - leads to a rather spirited debate
about the best local pizza. Bird champions the pizza at Pagliacci,
a Seattle mainstay. "It's got a thin crust, it's not heavy, and
it's huge. Really good," she says. Durant looks semiconvinced.
When Bird repeats her best-burger-in-town recommendation, Durant,
who polished off a four-inch-thick Dick's burger in roughly five
bites during the first leg of the photo session, nods knowingly.
Then, despite his claim that he knows little about the city's hot
spots, Durant passes along a recommendation of his own: Seastar
Restaurant in Bellevue, just outside Seattle.
“The crab legs — that’s what I had. They open them up for you so that you don’t have to do the work,” he says. Then he quickly adds, “But I don’t mind the work.” Bird counters by hyping the seafood at both Flying Fish and Cutters Bayhouse. “You like that kind of stuff, you’re in the right place,” she says.
The conversation closes with the veteran passing along a few first-year tips on coping and getting around to the newbie. Though Durant doesn’t acknowledge feeling any of the new-city jitters that Bird says she experienced during her first season (perhaps because he hasn’t, you know, really lived here yet), he asks her how she managed to familiarize herself with Seattle. “I just got in my car and drove,” she responds. “I didn’t know where I was going, but I was like, I’m going to figure it out. That’s how you get to know Seattle, whether you live here or not.”
With that, Bird and Durant exchange a quick handshake and are off. Durant, however, can’t resist taking one last shot with a ball that he found wedged under a courtside seat. He dribbles once, sets himself, and fires up a three from the far-right-hand corner of the court. It arches magnificently … and misses the basket entirely, the only one of the 300-odd shots he threw up during the photo session to meet such a fate.