It was one of the most shocking news of the hectic period of free agency (as the process of signing player contracts that ended their link with other institutions is called) that preceded the start of the 2020 season of the NBA. Although it was almost certain that he would not return to the Golden State Warriors, franchise with which he won two titles, the question of which team he would choose Kevin Durant to continue his career, he persisted until last July 6, when he was traded to Brooklyn nets.
In the decision of Durant a minor detail weighed: in the conference semifinals against Houston Rockets, the forward had suffered what the Warriors called a “stretch in the right calf”. The team decided that Durant would return for the fifth game of the league finals against the Toronto Raptors. In the first quarter of that duel, and although he was physically diminished, he scored 11 points. Two minutes into the second quarter, he fell and grabbed the back of his right leg.
The characteristic image anticipated the harsh subsequent diagnosis: rupture of the Achilles tendon of the right leg, a devastating injury that takes almost a year recovery calendar and from which few return the same. Golden State lost the finals in six games and could not be the first team since the Jordan Bulls to reach the triple championship. But that was only part of the pain the Warriors were feeling, as they knew Durant’s time in Oakland was also over.
The forward, who came to Golden State leaving the team he had played in his first nine seasons, Oklahoma City Thunder (although the first one was called Seattle Supersonics), was leaving the West Coast as champion to peek into a new challenge on the east coast as part of a long-term project the Nets wanted to accelerate with the addition of two stars: in addition to Durant, a Brooklyn native, the point guard (former Boston and Cleveland), was arriving on the team Kyrie irving.
With the season off and Durant’s recovery on the horizon, it was speculated that the forward could return to help the team solidify its position in the playoffs. Nets GM Sean Marks was recently excited: “Our staff has done a great job with Kevin.” But in the last few hours Durant (who during the stoppage contracted coronavirus, although asymptomatic, and recovered) communicated through his manager, Rich Kleinman, that he would not return: “I promise we don’t talk about it,” he said.