The feared worst-case scenario regarding Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant’s latest leg injury has now become reality.
On Wednesday, Durant revealed that the Achilles injury that cut his return for Game 5 of the NBA Finals short after just 12 minutes of action has been diagnosed as a ruptured Achilles tendon.
“What’s good everybody I wanted to update you all: I did rupture my Achilles,” Durant wrote in an Instagram post. “Surgery was today and it was a success, EASY MONEY.”
“My road back starts now,” Durant added. “I got my family and my loved ones by my side and we truly appreciate all the messages and support people have sent our way.”
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What’s good everybody I wanted to update you all: I did rupture my Achilles. Surgery was today and it was a success, EASY MONEY My road back starts now! I got my family and my loved ones by my side and we truly appreciate all the messages and support people have sent our way. Like I said Monday, I'm hurting deeply, but I'm OK. Basketball is my biggest love and I wanted to be out there that night because that’s what I do. I wanted to help my teammates on our quest for the three peat. Its just the way things go in this game and I'm proud that I gave it all I physically could, and I'm proud my brothers got the W. It's going to be a journey but I'm built for this. I’m a hooper I know my brothers can get this Game 6, and I will be cheering with dub nation while they do it.
Prior to his return to the rotation on Monday, Durant missed the previous nine games due to a right calf strain suffered in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets.
“Our feeling was the worst thing that could happen would be a re-injury of the calf — so the Achilles came as a complete shock,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said on Wednesday, per ESPN’s The Jump.
Despite missing the previous nine outings —a stretch that spanned three playoff series — the 30-year-old Durant looked true to form in his short-lived return to the court, pouring on 11 critical early points in what ultimately ended as a 106-105 Warriors Game 5 win over the Toronto Raptors. It appeared as if Durant picked up right where he left off before suffering his initial right calf strain against Houston, which snapped a streak of eight consecutive games in which Durant led the Warriors in scoring, including 45-point and 50-point eruptions.
Such efforts supported the increasingly common sentiment that Durant was beginning to cement his status as the best basketball player in the world.
“All those talking heads who say we’re better without him, that’s just ludicrous. That’s crazy,” Warriors All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson said following the Warriors’ Game 5 win. “This is the best player in the world. You could put him on the 30th-best team in the league and that team will make the playoffs, that’s how talented he is.”
“With [Durant], we are really, I believe, one of the greatest teams to ever play,” Thompson added. “Without him, we’re a really good team, but you throw Kevin Durant out there, like I said before, one of the greatest ever.”
Given the expected recovery timetable for a ruptured Achilles — typically 8-12 months — Durant’s injury may not only impact his pursuit of becoming the greatest basketball player in the world, but more immediately, his potential impending free agency. Durant does hold a player option with Golden State, which would allow him to return to the Bay Area and earn $31.5 million throughout the 2019-20 season.
If Durant does opt out and enter free agency in the coming weeks, the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets are expected to join Golden State as serious contenders for the 10-time NBA All-State and two-time NBA Finals MVP.