The last time Durant traveled to UT to be honored he cried as the school lifted his No. 35 jersey to the rafters during a halftime ceremony to retire his number.
"That's something you don't come past every day, people that get their jersey retired at a big-time university like that," Durant said. "It's a blessing to go back."
In Durant's final home game as a Longhorn, he scored 30 points with 16 rebounds in a classic 98-96 double-overtime win over Texas A&M. Anyone who thinks Tuesday's return will be just another preseason game doesn't know Durant.
His continued admiration for his alma mater is not just an act. He enjoys riling up the Sooners faithful on this side of the Red River, but he genuinely bleeds burnt orange.
It's a love affair rarely seen between school and one-and-done stars like Durant. Making it even more extraordinary is the love goes both ways.
With no morning shoot-around scheduled for Tuesday after tonight's game in Houston, Durant will have all day to catch up with old friends.
"I'm going to the gym to see the guys," Durant said. "I'll go see the people in academics. Go to the Basketball office. I just might carry my game clothes to the gym because I might be there for the whole day."
It's not uncommon for NBA teams to schedule preseason games at players' alma maters. On Oct. 14, Boston played inside the XL Center (formerly the Civic Center) on the campus of Connecticut, where Celtics guard Ray Allen once starred. Last year, Deron William's Utah squad played at Assembly Hall at the University of Illinois.
In 2006, Atlanta and Charlotte played inside the Dean E. Smith Center at North Carolina to reunite Tar Heels Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton and Sean May. And in 2005 Shaquille O'Neal played his first game inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center since 1991-92 when Miami played New Orleans.
But there is an underlying significance in Durant's homecoming. It shows the Thunder's respect for its star and the star's loyalty to his people.
"Loyalty means a great deal to him," Longhorns men's Basketball coach Rick Barnes told The Oklahoman last year. "One thing I can promise you is there's not a more loyal human being you'll meet than Kevin Durant."
So if the cameras catch a misty-eyed Durant on Tuesday, keep in mind the Thunder's respect for allowing him his moment. Also think of Durant's loyalty. It's a mix that could be the backbone of a long and prosperous future for both parties.