When Kevin Durant made his return to the floor after missing 32 days with a right calf injury to try and help propel the Golden State Warriors back from a 3-1 NBA Finals deficit, there was an underlying fear of the worst case scenario. With Durant probably not 100 percent recovered from the injury he suffered against the Houston Rockets, the potential for the Warriors star to re-injure himself felt high despite being cleared for Game 5.
Then, with just a few minutes gone by in the second quarter, the darkest timeline came to fruition. Durant injured his Achilles as he pushed off with his right foot on a drive and immediately collapsed to the floor. As he limped off to the locker room with the help of his teammates, thoughts quickly turned to how his recovery might affect his looming free agency, where a group of teams are jostling for his services this summer.
After the game, in which the Warriors escaped with a one-point win to force a Game 6, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst remarked that Durant’s injury “changed” the entire NBA. If Durant indeed suffered what many fear to be a torn Achilles, there’s potential that he’ll miss the entirety of the 2020-2021 season as he rehabs back, and then there’s the uncertainty of how much of Durant’s explosiveness will remain intact. Durant’s teammate DeMarcus Cousins, who tore his Achilles last season, remains a shadow of his former self, and Kobe Bryant’s Achilles injury late in his career essentially led to his retirement.