Also says it wasn’t just Golden State’s medical staff — but even Durant’s own outside doctor and agent who had cleared him to play…
Drew Shiller | NBC SPORTS
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr met with the media on Wednesday afternoon.
He of course was asked about all the noise on social media, TV, podcasts, talk radio, etc. about Golden State deserving the blame for the right Achilles injury Kevin Durant sustained during Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night.
Kerr responded with a long and thoughtful answer:
“There’s going to be blame, there’s going to be fingerpointing. And we understand that. We accept that … the main thing is our concern for Kevin. Obviously, everybody feels horrible for what happened.
“As Bob [Myers GM Bob Myers] mentioned the other night, this last month (has been) a collaborative effort in his rehabilitation. And that collaboration included Kevin and his business partner, Rich Kleiman, our medical staff, his own outside doctor.
“Kevin checked all the boxes and he was cleared to play by everybody involved. Now, would we go back and do it over again? Damn right. But that’s easy to say after the results. When we gathered all the information, our feeling was the worst thing could happen would be a reinjury of the calf.
“That was the advice and the information that we had. And at that point, once Kevin was cleared to play he was comfortable with that and we were comfortable with that. So the Achilles came as a complete shock.
“Had we known that this was a possibility, there’s no way we would have ever allowed Kevin to come back. It’s devastating, mostly for Kevin obviously. I feel horribly for Rick Celebrini [Golden State’s Director of Sports Medicine and Performance] as well, who is one of the best people I’ve ever been around and one of the smartest, brightest minds I’ve ever been around.
The Warriors’ worst fears came true Wednesday afternoon.
Kevin Durant announced on Instagram that he had ruptured his right Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and underwent successful surgery.
Here’s what KD wrote in the caption.
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.
Dr. Selene Parekh of The Fantasy Doctors tweeted that Durant likely will have a nine- to 11-month recovery time, meaning he would miss most, if not all, of the 2019-20 season.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr addressed the media just moments before Durant made his announcement, and said the Achilles injury was a “shock” to the team.
“If we knew this was in the realm of possibility, we would have never allowed Kevin to come back,” Kerr said.
Durant was injured early in the second quarter of the Warriors’ eventual 106-105 win over the Toronto Raptors on Monday. He caught the ball on the right wing, and his right leg buckled to the ground when he tried to dribble past Raptors big man Serge Ibaka.
Durant was playing in his first game since May 8, when he suffered a calf strain in the Warriors’ second-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets. Durant missed 32 days — including nine games — but fought back to return for Game 5 with the Warriors facing a three-games-to-one deficit despite reportedly “not being close to 100 percent.”
Durant looked brilliant in his 12 minutes on the court, pouring in 11 points and helping set the tone for Golden State in a must-win game. But his body clearly wasn’t quite ready.
The minute KD’s injury happened, the Warriors knew they’d have to fight back and win their third consecutive NBA championship without their star forward’s help. But they now know Durant likely won’t play at all in the 2019-20 season, either.
Durant’s injury also might complicate the question of where he’ll play next season. He has a $31.5 million player option on the Warriors contract he signed last year, and although many might believe this news would give Golden State a better chance at keeping him, Durant opting in to the deal reportedly would be “the last resort” for him.
Why Warriors should be proud regardless of outcome in NBA Finals
Monte Poole | NBC SPORTS
OAKLAND — Someday, the ultimate result of this season may matter to the Warriors. They will look back on defeat and wonder why or relive victory and wonder how. The reminiscence of this Warriors postseason will be, at best, sadness garnished with joy.
It barely matters if history reflects whether the Warriors won or lost the 2019 NBA Finals, for here in the present they’ve already done both.
They’ve won by failing to release their grip on the ankles of a team that has been better by nearly every measure. Through five games the Toronto Raptors are posting superior numbers in scoring, shooting percentage, rebounding, free throws and free-throw percentage. They have more blocks and more steals, fewer turnovers.
The Warriors have won by making it to The Finals and advancing to Game 6 on Thursday, because they are prevailing despite living the past eight weeks under a cascade of crutches, splints, heat packs, ice bags and bandages. Not one member of their rotation has been spared.
DeMarcus Cousins missed was out six weeks. Stephen Curry had a finger yanked back into place and did not miss a game. Klay Thompson missed only one game with a hamstring that continues to bark. Andre Iguodala is limping out there with tender calves and knees. Draymond Green declines to acknowledge his throbbing right knee. Kevon Looney is pulling the ice pack off his chest before subbing into a game.
The Warriors have used 10 different starting lineups. Expressing exasperation with humor, with a ring of truth, coach Steve Kerr last week singled out 15-year veteran guard Shaun Livingston, whose body requires routine maintenance, basically for remaining upright.
“I asked Shaun how it felt to be the healthiest guy left on the team right now. He said, ‘Yeah I did not see that coming,’” Kerr told our Kerith Burke.
“It’s a long haul getting to The Finals five years in a row,” he added. “There’s so many games, so much wear and tear. I couldn’t be (prouder) of the group to keep fighting and keep going no matter who’s out there.”
Which brings us to Kevin Durant. He was submitting a postseason for the ages before his right calf bit him in Game 5 of the second round against the detested Rockets. The Warriors won Game 6 in Houston, and the Rockets have been pointing fingers among themselves ever since.
Durant missed the entire Western Conference Finals against Portland and most of The Finals before returning for Game 5 on Sunday, dominating for 12 minutes, and then collapsed in a heap. His Achilles’ tendon, at the base of the same leg as his strained calf, gave way.
This is the Warriors’ biggest confirmed loss thus far, and it is devastating enough to dampen their moods for days. For months. For years, even.
“F—, man, it ain’t right,” Livingston said of Durant’s injury. “He wanted to play. Badly. He’s the most covered player in sports right now, maybe along with Kawhi (Leonard). And now . . . the training staff is crying. They put their jobs on the line for this.
“Hopefully, it’s just a chapter in his story.”
The Warriors were outscored by four once Durant was helped into the locker room. They were outscored by five in the second half and outrebounded by four. They were clobbered in free throw attempts, 27-14.
They won. Without KD. For KD.
“We always talk about how this team is with one another, but people still don’t really grasp what we’re talking about,” Iguodala said after Game 5. “When we say this is like a real brotherhood, a team, people have no clue what goes into that and how we feel about each other.”
One thing the Warriors have in abundance, regardless of who is active, is pride. Almost to the level of vanity. It’s the hottest fire inside of them, and it’s such a positive intangible factor.
So no matter what happens Thursday, when the ball is tipped at Oracle Arena for the very last time, they’ve won.
They’ll win if they may enter one of those crazy, inexplicable zones where shots keep dropping and the scoreboard declares it and there is a Game 7. They’ll win if the Raptors walk off the Oracle floor as champions.
Because years from now, when these Warriors look back upon their stretch of unprecedented success, they should be as proud of their achievement in Year 5 as any of the others.