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Kevin Durant hits his groove with the Warriors

OAKLAND -- It has been nearly five months since Kevin Durant became a member of the Golden State Warriors, and while his transition on the court has been relatively seamless, it took venturing outside of his comfort zone to fully integrate himself.

Take Durant's pregame routine, for example.

In the past with the Oklahoma City Thunder, upon the completion of the intros, Durant typically moseyed up to the huddle with a no-nonsense, deadpan expression cemented to his face. That's how intense he was prior to competition. That's the only way he knew how to get himself up for the game.

Nowadays, you'll see Durant in a Golden State pregame huddle bobbing in place while performing a version of the two-step dance among his other hopping, dancing, bubbly teammates. This atmosphere is a little different.

"Man, dancing ain't my thing, but you know I'm a team player," Durant told ESPN in an exclusive interview.

"Am I going to be the only one out there not dancing? That's not how I roll. Whatever my team wants to do, I'm with it. Even if it means me getting out there dancing."

Getting acclimated with the Warriors hasn't been an issue for Durant. He acknowledged that the biggest obstacle came with the relocation process after nine years in Oklahoma City, but his commitment to Team USA and the Rio Olympics in July and August made the move more complicated.

Although his Team USA-high 19.4 points per game suggested he was dialed in and focused solely on basketball, that's not entirely accurate.

Every day he was bombarded with phone calls, text messages and emails requesting his preferences and final approval on his new house: location, color scheme, square footage, proximity, landscape and interior decorating, to mention a few.

Durant said he prefers the hands-on approach, but his busy summer schedule forced him into house hunting by proxy. He was also concerned with making sure the moving process wouldn't disrupt the lives of his mother, younger brother and personal chef, who would make their way to The Bay as well.

"There's a lot that goes into it. It's not just what people think," Durant told ESPN. "Obviously, we're blessed enough to have the wealth to be able to kind of bypass some of those things that a normal person would [go through], but at the same time there's a lot of people depending on you to make their transition smooth too."

And once he finally moved into his Oakland residence, there was an unfamiliar, uncomfortable feeling.

"It's the unknown," Durant said. "When I rented my house, I didn't see it until I moved in. All I seen was pictures. And I'm so used to knowing the route to get from the airport, to my house, to the practice facility, to the arena, to grab food. Just anything. I had my routine and I had how I operated [in OKC], but the unknown of that was a little nerve-wracking because I didn't know anyone. I didn't know who to call if I needed something in the city.

"I had to start over. But that's the stuff you don't really see, but at the same time, it's an adjustment. It's an adjustment for whoever moves."

Teammates tried their best to make him feel at home.

"I heard he liked crab legs, so I sent him a text with a crab leg spot to go to," Andre Iguodala said he did when Durant first arrived. "We always talk about apps and stuff so we discussed certain apps to get him around. But once you're here a month or two, you kind of figure it out. It's pretty smooth."

While the setting of a new city has become the new normal for Durant, another development emerged: a shift in how the superstar was being treated on social media.

On Nov. 20, a concerned Durant tweeted, "Thank you, Charlie Strong," in regards to the Texas head football coach who was recently fired, simply showing his appreciation for Strong's three-year run at Durant's alma mater. Durant played one year at Texas and was the national player of the year before jumping to the NBA.

Directly under his message were tweets from some of his 15 million followers, many unrelated to the topic at hand. His Twitter mentions read, "Snake," "traitor," "you backstabbed an entire city," "please don't exist," "Benedict Arnold" and "I hate you," to reference a few.

But Durant just takes it in stride, understanding this is the rhetoric that sometimes accompanies choosing what many feel is an unpopular path.

"It is what it is, but I tell you one thing, all that stuff stays [online]. Nobody's ever coming to me in my face and saying none of that," Durant said to ESPN.

"It's jokes. Everybody is just waiting for it. If you really didn't care [what I say], you wouldn't even follow my tweets. So obviously you care about something. But what, I'm going to get mad at that? Hell nah."

Social media can be a dark place where harassment and character attacks occur -- the norm for many athletes and celebrities. Durant maintains that he doesn't take the negative social media commentary personally. He said he gets it.

"That's what kind of makes their day," Durant said to ESPN. "Just being like, 'Oh, I talked to one of my favorite basketball players [on social media]. Even though I hate him, but he's still one of my favorites. I talked to a celebrity I really like but everybody else hates him, so I'm going to join in on the party.'

"Everybody's jumping on the waves. That's just how it is."

Whatever the overwhelming perception is of Durant as a player now that he's a Bay Area resident, it hasn't changed how he interacts with fans, mainly of the younger generation.

After finishing his pregame shooting regimen at home or on the road, he always makes time to stop and sign autographs and pose for pictures with the kids before his entry into the locker room. He's one of the true superstars in the league who consistently gives young fans a moment of his time before every game.

"The people who really enjoy the game, who really know the game, who don't care about none of that [off the court] stuff are kids, and they matter the most," Durant said.

"I saw a video of when a kid got his ball signed by Steph [Curry], and that raw emotion is what does it for me. That's a moment he's never going to forget. Whereas the teenagers up to the grown-ups, their moments are, 'All right, let me go to this game just so I can tell one of these players how I feel about them, and that's going to make my day.' The kids are what make the game."

Through it all, he still has love for those fans who still don't approve of his offseason decision. And he said he also has love for those who opt to make it a point at every turn to remind him of their disapproval on social media. He said he'll continue to be accessible to fans, whether or not he has hated social media. He wants all of his fans, including the negative ones, to know that he's appreciative of their support.

"It's fun, man, because it's entertainment," Durant said. "And I appreciate them letting us give them that opportunity, that experience.

"So if you want to heckle or if you want to cheer, as long as you're getting a release from whatever is going on in your normal life, that's cool. That's what life is about. You have to take the good with the bad."

And in his brief time with the Warriors, he has already picked up some nuances of the game that went undiscovered in previous seasons. His decision, which led to his move, has forced him to grow exponentially on and off the court.

"KD is always looking for other people. He's so unselfish," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. "It's amazing to watch because he can get any shot he wants any time, but he's constantly trying to get everybody else involved, which is a great trait especially for a superstar."

His acclimation to the Warriors' culture has gone smoothly, confirming that he made the right call.

"It's kind of crazy because you can see how life and sports are kind of parallel, because there's small things on the court where I was like, 'Wow, I didn't know it was supposed to be done this way,'" Durant said.

"The best part about it is that you find little small things that you didn't know about that you can learn every single day if you're looking for it."

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