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Kevin Durant has surgery for ruptured Achilles’ tendon

Kevin Durant’s injury amounts to a worst-case scenario for the star forward. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images via Bloomberg)

OAKLAND, Calif. — Kevin Durant announced Wednesday on Instagram that he had undergone surgery for a ruptured Achilles’ tendon.

A timetable for his recovery was not immediately known.

The Golden State Warriors superstar returned to the NBA Finals on Monday, his first game in more than a month after suffering a right calf strain during the second round of the playoffs. He departed, 12 minutes of play later, with a serious injury known for altering careers and robbing professional athletes of their explosiveness.

The 10-time all-star forward’s injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals came without contact, and it immediately sent him to the court in pain and disbelief. Early in the second quarter, the Maryland native attempted to drive past Raptors forward Serge Ibaka — only to crumble to the court as his right leg gave way. Durant needed to be assisted to the locker room by his teammates and he departed the arena early on crutches, finishing with 11 points and two rebounds in 12 minutes.

“When anybody goes down, you’re saddened by it,” Raptors Coach Nick Nurse said. “But when one of the great players like that goes down, it’s almost shocking.”

The devastating injury, which typically carries a 12-month recovery timeline and requires a grueling rehabilitation, strikes Durant in his athletic prime at age 30. Often, athletes don’t return to full form after an Achilles’ tear until the second season following the injury and, in some cases, they never recover their full quickness and agility. Given the timing of Durant’s injury, which was confirmed by an MRI taken Tuesday, it’s possible that he will miss the entire 2019-20 season.

Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins returned in January after missing roughly a year with an Achilles’ tear, only to look like a shell of himself. Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles’ in 2013 at age 34, played just six games the following season, and never returned to full form. San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay, however, has enjoyed a successful second act since tearing his Achilles’ in 2017.

This is just the second major injury of Durant’s 12-year career. In 2014-15, he missed 45 games due to a right foot fracture that required three surgeries over a six-month time period. Durant rebounded well, returning to all-star form the next season and emerging as the most coveted free agent by 2016, when he stunned the league by leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Warriors. His arrival gave Golden State, which had won a record 73 games the previous season, arguably the greatest collection of talent in NBA history.

Durant, regarded as one of the greatest all-around offensive players in NBA history, led the Warriors to the past two NBA titles and won Finals MVP honors in both 2016 and 2017. The four-time scoring champ averaged 26 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game this season, earning all-NBA second team honors and ranking eighth in jersey sales.

The decision to return to the court on Monday came after days of intense speculation regarding Durant’s mind-set. Reports surfaced that some members of the Warriors, dealing with numerous injuries to key players and facing elimination with a 3-1 series deficit to the Raptors, were growing frustrated that he hadn’t completed his comeback. After it initially seemed like he might return for Game 4 last Friday, the Warriors strangely reversed course without a clear explanation of the events and without Durant making any public statement.

Durant scored 11 points in 12 minutes before suffering an Achilles’ tear during Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Raptors. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Before sustaining the injury, Durant appeared loose and played effectively. He danced during pregame warm-ups, swished his first two three-pointers, and covered ground well. But his unfortunate turn of events became a nightmare scenario, given the pressure to perform, the stage of the NBA Finals and the severity of his injury.

Warriors General Manager Bob Myers was reduced to tears, stating that Durant had been “cleared to play” by the team’s medical staff and that his Achilles’ injury was separate from his original calf injury.

“Kevin Durant loves to play basketball, and the people that questioned whether he wanted to get back to this team were wrong,” Myers said. “He’s one of the most misunderstood people. He’s a good teammate, he’s a good person. It’s not fair. I’m lucky to know him.”

Durant can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and the chase to sign him has been a leading NBA subplot all season. The Warriors, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers are among his top suitors, and all three are likely to remain interested despite his setback. Per league rules, Golden State can pay him more than $220 million over five years, while other suitors can offer four years at more than $160 million.

He has a $31.5 million player option for next season with Golden State, should he elect to forgo free agency this summer.

Read more:

Kevin Durant will still be wanted. But which teams and stars can afford to wait for him?

Toronto, ‘embarrassed’ by fans who cheered Kevin Durant’s injury, seeks to make amends

Kevin Durant’s injury reverberated throughout the NBA. In Prince George’s County, it hit home.

Kevin Durant paid the price for playing hurt. Robert Griffin III can feel his pain.

In Warriors’ epic must-win, NBA Finals get eclipsed by the loss of Kevin Durant

With Kevin Durant out, DeMarcus Cousins needs to step up for Warriors

Charles Barkley blames the Warriors for Kevin Durant’s injury

Raptors Coach Nick Nurse ripped for timeout that helped the Warriors

The Raptors lost Game 5 but at least Canada got this very cool rendition of its anthem

Warriors survive Game 5 but Kevin Durant injures Achilles’: ‘Incredible win and a horrible loss’

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