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Brooklyn's Kevin Durant sees action for 1st time in 552 days

Kevin Durant finally suits up for the Nets following his lengthy recovery from a torn Achilles tendon.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving combined for 33 points in Brooklyn’s preseason opener.

For the first time in 552 days, Kevin Durant is back on an NBA court in a game that actually (sort of) matters.

The former Kia NBA MVP and four-time scoring champion suited up Sunday for his “new” team, the Brooklyn Nets, whom he joined via sign-and-trade all the way back in July 2019, mere weeks after tearing his Achilles tendon with the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of The Finals.

The catastrophic injury forced Durant sit out the entire 2019-20 season, lengthy hiatus and all. In addition to his monstrous salary, it was a price the Nets were more than willing to pay in order to land a player with the sixth highest scoring average in NBA history at 27.02 points per game.

Brooklyn’s preseason opener against Washington also saw the return of Durant’s fellow superstar, Kyrie Irving, who missed all but 20 games of last season with a variety of injuries including a shoulder impingement that required surgery. The Nets hoped the tandem could elevate them to serious championship contention, and for at least one preseason game those expectations looked well-founded.

Durant wasted little time getting to work, blowing past a closeout at the 3-point line to dunk for the game’s first points.

Kevin Durant throws down against the Wizards.

It was the start of an impressive first quarter for him and Irving, who scored nine and 12 points, respectively, as the Nets raced out to a 38-20 lead.

The two played only sparingly after that, with Durant finishing with 15 points in 24 minutes and Irving totaling 18 in 17. But even after squandering a 26-point lead — the Nets recovered to win 119-114 — that modest taste of Brooklyn’s healthy star tandem was more than enough to whet appetites around the NBA.


“It felt great to be back in the routine and be back on the floor and feel like a player again,” Durant said. “It felt great. Everybody’s texting and calling and asking me how I’m feeling. I can’t wait until that’s over with so I can get back in the swing of things and just feel like one of the guys again.”

Said head coach Steve Nash, also making his preseason Nets debut, “It’s another thing to come back and look as explosive and mobile and skillful as he has after a long layoff. I’m incredibly proud of him.”