Kevin Durant’s comeback from a calf injury ended in something worse.
Golden State Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers was openly emotional when he told media members after the game that the injury was to Durant’s right Achilles. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski report that the team fears Tuesday’s MRI will reveal the injury to be a tear of the Achilles tendon, the same injury that kept DeMarcus Cousins out of action for one year.
During media availability on Wednesday, coach Steve Kerr said the Warriors did not have an update to provide on Durant’s injury.
“I guess there’s some speculation out there as to what’s going on,” Kerr said. “But we have no news. As soon as we have some news, any updates, we’ll let you know.”
"We made the decision collaboratively with all the information that we had and we thought it was the right one."
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 12, 2019
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Durant traveled to New York on Tuesday for doctors to evaluate his injured Achilles.
Myers was teary when he gave the news after Game 5 of The Finals on Monday night. While the MRI will reveal exactly the extent of Durant’s injury, his season is clearly over and his recovery will likely take several months if the Achilles is indeed torn.
“He’s one of the most misunderstood people,” Myers said. “He’s a good teammate, he’s a good person, it’s not fair. I’m lucky to know him. I don’t have all the information on what really the extent of what it all means until we get a MRI, but the people that worked with him and cleared him are good people, they’re good people.”
Myers said he felt the team had done all it could to ensure the two-time Finals MVP’s safe return to action and offered himself as a target of criticism in light of the injury.
“I don’t believe there’s anybody to blame, but I understand this world,” Myers said. “If you have to, you can blame me. I run our basketball operations department.”
Durant left in the second quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a game Golden State went on to win against the Toronto Raptors 106-105. The Warriors All-Star forward was seen leaving the arena on crutches and in a walking boot.
He got hurt on a dribble on the right wing , coming up lame on a crossover move and falling to the floor. He grabbed the back of his leg, appeared to grab below the calf and more toward the Achilles area, and needed help to limp to the bench area and more help to get back to the Warriors’ locker room. Warriors forward Andre Iguodala was on Durant’s left side as they made the long walk back to the room, with Myers and Stephen Curry in the group immediately behind them.
He shouted an expletive as he left the floor, his frustration obvious. He was supposed to be one of the marquee free agents this summer. He may now end up exercising his $31.5 million option to stay with the Warriors, especially if he’s going to be sidelined for an extended period.
Durant’s mother, Wanda, was on Good Morning America on Thursday and shared her thoughts on her son’s injury. She was not at Scotiabank Arena for Game 5 and saw what happened on the telecast of the game.
“I was excited because he was doing so well,” Wanda Durant said. “Then, when it happened, I just kind of sunk. I was just glued on him and glued on his eyes to see how he was doing. Still, kind of hurtful to see the anguish in his eyes. He looked as though he felt somewhat dejected at that time. He tried to hobble off and I was thinking, ‘don’t do that, son.’
— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 12, 2019
“I talked with him about five to 10 minutes afterwards. He just told me not to cry. He worked so hard to get back to play and he just told me he was going to be OK and don’t worry. He had to kind of talk me down a little bit.”
Wanda Durant said the hours and days since the injury have been trying for her son.
“Emotionally, it’s a little tough for him. Physically, of course, you all saw he went down. He’s having a rough time right now,” she said. “But with the love our faith and our God and our family, we’re going to be OK.”
Durant had been cleared by the Warriors’ medical staff after Game 4, and participated in both a practice session Sunday and a shootaround practice earlier Monday. The Warriors had said throughout his month-long absence that they did not want him back on the floor until he was right, for fear of this exact scenario — Durant aggravating the injury and having no chance of returning this season.
Their nightmare came true. And if it really only was a calf injury initially, this was worse.
“It’s a bizarre feeling that we all have right now,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “An incredible win and a horrible loss at the same time.”
“It sucks. I feel so bad for him, his camp,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “He’s going to come back stronger though. That’s the kind of fighter he is and I’m going to miss him, man. It’s not the same being out there without him.”
Kerr said before the Game 5 that Durant had “responded well” to the practices. “He’s going to play,” Kerr said.
And he was playing well, too.
Durant had 11 points in 12 minutes, making all three of his 3-point attempts. He started and played the first six minutes, then had the lower leg wrapped with a heating pad to keep it loose before he returned about three minutes later.
A number of NBA players reacted on Twitter quickly — both to the injury, and to the sound of some Toronto fans cheering when Durant got hurt.
“Why are they cheering for his injury? Come on man,” Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid wrote.
Added Washington Wizards forward Bobby Portis: “Raptors fans can’t cheer for a player getting hurt. That’s lame.”
Many others just sent best wishes, including the Miami Heat’s Olynyk, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love and the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young.
“I don’t think the fans knew the significance of the injury,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said after Game 5.
The Warriors entered the night trailing the Raptors 3-1 in the title series — meaning their hopes of a third consecutive NBA championship were squarely on the brink. Durant had not played since straining a calf muscle in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against Houston, and the team hoped his presence would be a boost.
“The skill, obviously, is undeniable and he’s a guy who can get a shot off anytime he wants,” Kerr said earlier Monday. “He’s been in similar situations with us where he’s had long layoffs. He’s Kevin Durant. If we have him out there, he’ll be a threat.”
He won’t be out there again this season.
“I just feel so bad for him,” Curry said. “Nobody should have to go through something like that.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.