Basketball

Why Kevin Durant’s injury in the NBA Finals should teach us to think before we react

Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant joins ‘mosh pit’ at Kanye West concert

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant joins fans during Sunday's Kanye West concert performance in the general admission floor section at Oracle Arena in Oakland. It was a classic "mosh pit" and Durant, accompanied by security, thrust himself
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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant joins fans during Sunday's Kanye West concert performance in the general admission floor section at Oracle Arena in Oakland. It was a classic "mosh pit" and Durant, accompanied by security, thrust himself

I’ve played basketball once since August.

My knee had been locking up on me at times while not playing and I just figured it was achy bones or something like that. But after that last time playing my quad swelled up like crazy.

Therefore, like any responsible adult, I did a Google search on it. Well, according to webmd.com, it could have been many things. But the one that made the most sense indicated a partial tear of a knee ligament. That’s scary.

You might be wondering, “Well, did you see a doctor?” The answer is no. I guess the main reason is the fact I don’t know if I want to know, so I’ve been just pretending it’s fine — and for the most part it is, at least while not playing basketball. How will it react if I play again? I’ve yet to find out.

I plan to soon, so we’ll see.

But the fact is I’m no one special when it comes to the sport; I’m simply someone who played as a kid growing up and have enjoyed continuing to do so as an adult. I’m no Kevin Durant.

Therefore, as I watched Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night — which was supposed to be KD’s triumphant return to the sinking Golden State Warriors ship — I felt ill when I saw him go down with what has been called a right Achilles’ injury, the type that could potentially put him out for more than a year.

I’m an Oklahoma City Thunder fan and Durant is not exactly my favorite person these days. But I hate seeing anyone get injured and you should too. That’s why when the Toronto Raptors fans cheered on his injury, I — like the Raptors players — couldn’t believe it. It was wrong.

While attending Myrtle Beach High product and 11-year NBA veteran Ramon Sessions’ 12th annual youth camp Tuesday, I asked for his thoughts on the injury, and he quickly brought up the conundrum that is Durant, one that those like us who watch from afar and speculate can’t truly understand.

“You don’t ever want to see that happen to anybody. For a guy like KD, all the backlash about ‘the team is better without him,’ and this and that, ‘he’s leaving’ — at the end of the day, that guy stayed in the moment, he was all for the moment, and what he did was incredible to come in there,” Sessions said. “He had 11 points before he got hurt. He was feeling good. It was one of those freak accidents. Hopefully he’ll have a speedy recovery.”

This isn’t coming from a former teammate or anything like that. It’s a response like the one that came from Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, an opponent who showed true compassion when Durant was helped off the floor. The game became secondary in that moment. Lowry moments later went as far as to shun the his team’s fans who were cheering.

As much as I hated to see the cheering, I also reminded myself that not all fans at sporting events are completely aware of what’s going on — or even thinking of the big picture during games — and they, too, are human. Sessions chalked it up to a mistake.

“I played in Toronto for the playoffs. I’ve been in Toronto plenty of times and they’re not those kind of fans. I think it’s one of those things where they just got caught up in the moment,” Sessions said. “You know, it’s a playoff game and they’re trying to win their first championship. But I think if they had to over do it, they wouldn’t have did it that way.”

Hopefully the instance can serve as a teaching moment. For one, Durant proved that he’s not as selfish as many make him out to be as he put perhaps a big paycheck and a year’s worth of health on the line to help the Warriors try to climb out of a 3-1 hole. Two, speculation is simply, well, speculation.

People, including those in the media, have speculated so much about what’s inside Durant’s head. He’s been bad mouthed. He’s been called soft. He’s been labeled a traitor — OK, so maybe I’ve been part of that crowd.

But in the grand scheme of things, what he chooses to do with his career is up to him. We can hate all we want. We can argue all day. But anyone who’s every played basketball — or any other sport for that matter — can tell you they’d never cheer someone’s injury.

I know these guys make millions of dollars and have great lives. But they are, too, human.

In a strange dichotomy, this series includes Kawhi Leonard and, now, no Durant. If we look back, the main reason Leonard is in Toronto is because of a dispute over an injury that lasted most of last season when he was with the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs thought he was well enough to play, yet Kawhi did not.

We’ll never know if Leonard would have suffered a serious injury by going onto the court when San Antonio wanted him to last season. But unfortunately we did see what happened with Durant.

In both cases, the players were cleared by team doctors. Yet, there’s always risk and not everything is cut and dried when it comes to injuries. Therefore, we should respect the players’ choices when it comes to these dicey decisions.

“It’s tough. You’ve got the media talking this and saying that. At the end of the day, as competitors we want to be out there playing with our team no matter what,” Sessions said. “It just shows KD, he’s a competitor, he wants to be out there with his team. That could have been it for him last night. It just shows you the respect he has for his team and for the game.

“It’s a tough call. Who knows what would have happened if he didn’t play or obviously if he did what did happen. It’s one of those things you’ve just got to sit down with your agent and sit down with the team doctors and see what you’ve got and then just go with your gut.”

Even still it’s a gamble, however we want to color it.

I hope to get back on the court soon and I, too, wish Durant a speedy recovery.

Injuries suck. Let’s make sure to remember that.

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