The landscape of the NBA was turned on its head on Monday night. During the second quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Golden State Warriors star planted his right leg awkwardly against the Toronto Raptors, went down in obvious pain, and suffered what was eventually determined to be an Achilles injury. Durant had not played in a month since hurting his calf against the Houston Rockets, and in his first game back, the Warriors star saw his night come to an early conclusion.
It was an emotional moment among those who suit up for the Warriors, from general manager Bob Myers, to head coach Steve Kerr, to a lengthy list of Durant’s teammates. Members of the Raptors offered up kind words to Durant, too, including Kawhi Leonard, who spoke at length about suffering this kind of debilitating injury after the game.
“It’s devastating,” Leonard said after he game. “You work so hard to get to this point, you know, these are the last games. You see he tried to come out and push himself, but obviously he tried to do a move and I feel bad for him. I’ve been in that situation before. I hope he has a speedy recovery and just gets healthy and hope that he’s going to be OK mentally, just throughout the whole rehab process.
“Like I said before, we work so hard to either play in a Finals or just play in the NBA, and when you’re not playing it’s hard to wrap your [mind] around it,” Leonard continued. “I’m pretty sure he’s going to attack each day and get better and come back strong.”
Leonard, of course, missed all but nine games during the 2017-18 campaign as a member of the San Antonio Spurs with a lingering quad issue, so he can speak as well as anyone about the complexities of dealing with and coming back from a serious injury. As Leonard said, here’s to hoping Durant is able to recover from this as fast as his body will let him, and whenever he steps on a floor next, he’s as dominant of a player as ever.