Basketball

Kevin Durant punches ball into crowd, strikes Bronco Wine's Franzia in the face

Bronco Wine Company's Joseph Franzia, 75, is photographed with a signed pair of Kevin Durant sneakers following the Golden State Warriors' 109-105 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018. The sneakers were a gift from Durant, who accidentally struck and injured the Ceres native with a basketball before the game.
Bronco Wine Company's Joseph Franzia, 75, is photographed with a signed pair of Kevin Durant sneakers following the Golden State Warriors' 109-105 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018. The sneakers were a gift from Durant, who accidentally struck and injured the Ceres native with a basketball before the game. The Undefeated

One day, famed winemaker Joseph Franzia hopes he and NBA superstar Kevin Durant can share a bottle of wine, perhaps Franzia's Two-Buck Chuck, and laugh about how an unlikely friendship was forged.

It began inauspiciously prior to the Golden State Warriors' 109-105 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday at Oracle Arena. During the pregame, Durant spun and launched a 3-pointer from the wing. The shot caromed off the back rim and back toward Durant, who punched it high into into the air.

ESPN's Marc J. Spears watched the sequence unfold and knew it wouldn't end well for the former league MVP. The ball crashed into a crowd courtside.



"I was like, 'Uh-oh, that's going into the stands' and it landed on somebody," Spears recalled.

The ball struck Franzia, a 75-year-old Marine veteran and the recipient of three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, in the face. The Ceres native was reportedly cut above his left eye, from his glasses, and required an ice pack.

Durant realized his mistake and quickly reacted, running into the crowd to check on Franzia, a member of the Franzia wine family and owner of the Bronco Wine Company, the fourth-largest wine company in the United States.

"You could see a bunch of people go surround the guy," Spears reported. "And I saw an old man with a veteran's hat on and I'm like, "Oh, this ain't good.' It hit his glasses and it cut the man. Kevin ran to the stands, profusely apologized and left. His security guy came back, apologized and invited the man to come back to the locker room."

Franzia glady accepted, and was later pictured with a pair of signed Durant sneakers. The picture was posted to Spears' Twitter account.

"Look, you'd better win the game now after doing that," Franzia told Durant, as reported by Spears.

Golden State did.

Stephen Curry had a season-high 49 points, including 33 in the second half, and Durant overcame his pregame fan experience and finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.

"It was playoff intensity, back and forth. Besides that first, probably, eight, 10 minutes, nobody could really get any separation, so I'd say a defensive battle pretty much the whole game and guys making plays all over the court," Durant told ESPN's Chris Forsberg. "So, it was a fun game, it was intense, it was hard fought through all 48 minutes. So that is kind of what you expect in the playoffs, for sure."

Afterward, Durant was visited in the locker room by Franzia, who told Spears he would probably give the signed sneakers to his son-in-law, ironically a Cleveland Cavaliers fan.

Franzia wrapped up their encounter with an invitation of his own: A visit to one of the family's vineyards for a glass of wine.

Durant does enjoy a glass of wine from time to time. In June, he equated winning his first NBA championship to the perfect nightcap: a fire, a cigar and, of course, a glass of wine.

"It's just like a boss, man," he said. "... It's more like let me go home in my nice car and smoke a cigar while I lay my feet out with the fire, you and the fire pit with a glass of wine, let me just sit back. That's how it feels. I'm sure you guys can relate to having a nice nightcap. That's exactly how it feels."

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