Some sports injuries are bigger than others, and this one appears to fall onto the monumental side of the scale. One of the NBA's best players, Golden State's Kevin Durant, returned from a leg injury to play Game 5 of the finals against the Toronto Raptors Monday night—only to suffer what appears to be an even more devastating Achilles injury. Golden State managed to win anyway and now trails the series 3-2. But as the AP notes, the injury led to an "almost unimaginable" scenario: a game in the finals where neither team felt like celebrating afterward. The Durant situation has far-reaching implications, and not just for the remainder of the finals. The details:
- The fans: Durant went down in the first half, which you can see via this ESPN video, starting around the 1:20 mark. Toronto fans cheered the injury, at least initially, prompting Raptors players to signal for them to stop, reports NBC News. "That's what I kinda hate about sports nowadays," says the Warriors' Jordan Bell. "It's not more so about cheering for your team, it's about being ignorant. ... When someone goes down like that, I think that all has to go away. We're all human beings."
- Drake: The singer is a huge Raptors fan, and he tried to console the injured Durant as he came off the court. TMZ has video.
- It's bad: For basketball players, "an Achilles injury is historically a few steps below having your head spontaneously pop like a water balloon, but only a few steps below," writes Chris Thompson at Deadspin. An MRI on Tuesday will reveal the full damage. Players usually need nine months to recover, and they typically suffer a big drop-off in playing time and productivity when they first come back, per FiveThirtyEight.com.
- It's huge: "The entire league may have changed in the millisecond that Durant's season ended," writes Ben Cohen at the Wall Street Journal. Durant could be a free agent this summer, and he was widely expected to leave the Warriors, perhaps for the Knicks. Durant had been looking at a payday of around $164 million over four years in a new deal, but that is now in doubt. "The futures of Durant, the Warriors, the Knicks and really the entire NBA depend on the results of his MRI," Cohen notes.
- Whose call? Durant had missed the last nine games, so why was he cleared to play Monday? That question should "haunt" the Warriors organization, writes Dan Wolken at USA Today. A clearly shaken coach Steve Kerr suggested the decision was made over his head, while team GM Bob Myers called it a "collaborative decision," adding: "I don't believe there's anybody to blame, but I understand it's this world. And if you have to, you can blame me." The earlier injury was described as a strained calf muscle, on the same leg.
- Mom in defense: Some were criticizing Durant himself, and his mother wasn't having it. "For ALL of you who question my son as a Man, question his Heart, question his Integrity and question his LOVE for the game of basketball, you DON’T know him," tweeted Wanda Durant. "He has a heart of a true Warrior! This too shall pass. God Bless you ALL."
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