A little less than two months ago, Kevin Durant was escorted off the court at Scotiabank Arena during Game 5 of the NBA Finals, his career and the league’s landscape reshaped by the hairpin turn of his ruptured Achilles’ tendon.
In the moment, Toronto Raptors fans and those outside in Jurassic Park cheered before Raptors players urged them to stop.
Durant, for his part, says the moment was too much of a blur and he doesn’t remember hearing them. But now, he has a clear message to deliver:
“It will probably be the last time they will be in the Finals,” Durant said in an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) August 7, 2019
Toronto, of course, went on to win those Finals, but a recurring post-series narrative surrounded whether the Golden State Warriors mishandled Durant’s injury situation.
During the Warriors’ second-round series against the Houston Rockets, Durant suffered a Grade 2 right calf strain — the same leg he would ultimately tear his Achilles’ tendon on — leading to speculation on if there was a relationship between the two, or if Golden State had pressured him into returning earlier in a bid to come back in the series.
When Haynes asked Durant if either of those speculations had merit, his answer was a resounding no.
“Hell, no. How can you blame [the Warriors]? … Right when the series started, I targeted Game 5. Hell, nah. It just happened. It’s basketball. S— happens. Nobody was responsible for it. It was just the game. We just need to move on from that s— because I’m going to be back playing.”
Regardless, the game would prove to be Durant’s last in a Warriors jersey, as he left during free agency this summer to join Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets — members of the NBA’s Atlantic Division, as are the Raptors.
Durant is expected to miss a vast majority, if not all, of the 2019-20 season while rehabbing his Achilles’ injury, meaning Toronto fans will likely have to wait until next year to offer their own, in-arena response to Durant’s comments.