By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
After scoring 11 points in 12 minutes of what looked to be an epic comeback in the NBA Finals, Kevin Durant’s series and perhaps next season ended in Toronto. The two time Finals most valuable player suffered an achiles tendon injury in his right leg that cast a dark cloud over the remainder of the NBA championship series.
The Golden State Warriors defeated the Toronto Raptors 106-105 in game five which extended the series to a sixth game. However, there was little celebration on the part of the Warriors who know they’ve lost, arguably the best player in the world, for the rest of the series and beyond.
“It’s an achilies [injury],” said Golden State vice president of basketball operations Bob Myers, while choking back tears as he addressed the media during the post game press conference. “”I don’t believe there’s anybody to blame, but I understand this world, and if you have to, you can blame me. I run my basketball operations department.”
Durant had missed nine straight games after injuring his calf in game four of the western conference finals against the Houston Rockets on May 8. The Warriors has been cautious with his rehab since he was first injured and it was diagnosed as a calf injury. He reportedly had been going through intense rehabilitation, at least twice daily, since he was first injured May 8, and wasn’t cleared to play until the day of game five.
“Prior to coming back, he went through four weeks with our medical team,” Myers said. “And it was thorough, and it was experts and multiple MRIs and multiple doctors. And we felt good about the process. He was cleared to play tonight. That was a collaborative decision.”
Durant’s latest injury happened with just under 10 minutes left in the first half. He appeared to be setting up Toronto’s Serge Ibaka for his patented jab, step, fade-away jumper, just above the 3-point line on the right side of the floor. After his crossover- dribble between his legs Durant went to drive with his left hand and then his leg appeared to give, causing him to lose the ball.
“We’re going through a lot on this emotional roller coaster in the locker room when you see your brother go down like that,” Golden State guard Steph Curry said on ESPN’s Sportscenter following their . He did everything in his power to go out and give us what he had. Somewhere deep in your gut, you just reach down deep in your gut to be there for him.”
Over the last five years, Golden State has been a fixture in the NBA Finals. In the 10 games of the Finals Durant had played in, the Warriors were 9-1. However, reports began surfacing over the weekend that some people inside the locker room were questioning whether he wanted to come back and play this year.
“Let me tell you something about Kevin Durant,” Myers said. “Kevin Durant loves to play basketball, and the people that questioned whether he wanted to get back to this team were wrong. He’s one of the most misunderstood people. He’s a good teammate, he’s a good person. It’s not fair.”
The Suitland native, who many expected to be the most highly coveted free agent if he chooses to opt out of his contract, still has a $31 million player option for next season.