Kevin Durant has set the record straight about whether the Warriors pressured him to return from injury and play against the Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals.
The now-Nets star opened up Tuesday about the events leading up to the ruptured Achilles he suffered in the first half of Game 5. According to him, Golden State’s staff doesn’t deserve the blame.
“Hell, no. How can you blame (the Warriors)? Hell, no,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “I heard the Warriors pressured me into getting back. Nobody never said a word to me during rehab as I was coming back. It was only me and (director of sports medicine and performance) Rick (Celebrini) working out every day. 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.”
Durant had strained his calf in a second-round series against the Rockets and missed the team’s sweep of the Trail Blazers. When Durant finally stepped back on the court in the championship series, he torched Toronto for 11 points in 12 minutes before suffering the possible career-altering injury.
Durant said he’s focused on moving forward and making a comeback.
“Yeah, I still think about that night,” Durant said. “Every experience I’ve been through in the league is obviously always ingrained in my mind, but that one is definitely always going to be a huge part of my career because it’s the biggest stage and the type of injury I had. But now I look at it as me just going out there playing basketball, and I happened to get hurt. And now I’m just waiting to get back. I know it’s a huge deal to everybody else, but I just try to take it on the chin and keep it moving.”
Durant will play alongside his close friends Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan in Brooklyn. When Durant was asked why he joined a team that finished 2018-19 with a 42-40 record and was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, he kept his answer short and sweet.
“Because I wanted to,” Durant said. “The basketball was appealing.”
Durant averaged 26.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists for the Warriors last season and was named Finals MVP twice in his three years with the team. While he’ll likely miss all of 2019-20, it appears like he’s content with his new team.
“If I was leaving the Warriors, it was always going to be for the Nets,” Durant said. “They got the pieces and a creative front office. I just like what they were building.”