Last night was a devastating one for not only the Golden State Warriors and Kevin Durant, but the NBA as a whole. If you haven’t seen it yet, while trying to plant off of a dribble move, it looked like a shotgun went off inside KD’s calf.
There’s no reason to sugarcoat it, that looks absolutely brutal, and appears to be a serious Achilles injury. Take into account that it’s the same calf that he’s been nursing for the last month and you can’t help but feel for him. He came out last night and went to war FOR his teammates only to have maybe suffered the most. He’s 31 years old, on the cusp of free agency, and now could (pending the diagnosis) miss an entire season of his prime.
As a fan of basketball and someone who saw first hand how crushing the Gordon Hayward injury was, it hits home even more. Warriors’ players and management were noticeably shook after the game as Bob Myers was brought to tears at the podium.
It’s tough to watch and it’s fair to question if KD was healthy enough to be out there at all. As a competitor, I don’t blame Durant for coming out there and trying to play. It’s easy for us to say he shouldn’t have risked it while we’re at home on our couches eating popcorn and watching him. Take a step back and think about what he’s been through the last 3 seasons in Golden State. He’s a back to back champion, a back to back Finals MVP, and is treated as if none of that matters because he joined a 73-win team and “ruined the league”.
He clearly hears all of the noise and he clearly wants to shut up all of the naysayers and talking heads that try to say the Warriors are better without him. He’s one of the ultimate competitors and one of the best to ever do it. OF COURSE he wants to prove everybody wrong and help lead his team back from down 3-1 on the biggest stage. Hell, he won the game for them last night and he only played a mere 12 minutes. Without KD, the Warriors do not win that game last night and the Raptors are NBA Champions, that’s the truth.
While you can feel how you want about what went on behind the scenes before Game 5 and what went on to clear KD for this game, Myers’ reaction describes the severity of what occurred last night. This injury changes things…forever.
This was shaping up to be one of the biggest off-seasons in NBA history due to the vast amount of max free agents, high level rookies, and trade chips on the market. We’ve heard all season long that KD has been leaning towards leaving Golden State and teaming up with another max guy in New York. Now, the chances KD stays in Golden State skyrocket and teams like the Knicks who have been depending on this off-season to save their franchises are in a deep fog. Impending free agents are now also in the same deep fog as Durant was the ultimate domino that was set to fall on July 1st.
It effects Kyrie Irving who has been linked to Durant all season long as it has been painted that the two were set to be a package deal. It effects Klay Thompson as he seemingly has regained his spot as the 2nd star in Golden State and may be more willing to re-sign. It effects Anthony Davis as the possibility of Durant being out the entire season may make teams more aggressive when trying to deal for him. There’s a myriad of possibilities as those are just a few of the decisions that have been effected.
It also puts things in flux for the Warriors both in the present, and in the future. If Durant opts in, you essentially go through the exact same thing in they did this year but instead of him playing, he’s rehabbing. If he does opt out, it’s fair to question wether or not it would be worth it for the Warriors to sign him long term.
Lastly, it effects Kevin Durant and what happens with him this off-season and beyond. He has a lot of work ahead of him to get back to his form pre-injury assuming his achilles is torn. That work is amplified even more due to his upcoming free agency and how he decides to move forward.
It remains to be seen how much of a “what-if” this injury will become but one thing is for certain, the league has been turned on it’s head yet again.