Injury not Warriors' fault, says Durant

Star forward refutes reports that former team rushed him back to feature in the NBA Finals

NEW YORK • Contrary to many reports, Kevin Durant does not pin any blame on the Golden State Warriors for his ruptured Achilles tendon suffered just 12 minutes into Game 5 of the NBA Finals in June.

He told Yahoo Sports that his former team did not bring about his injury, which will likely rule him out of most of the new National Basketball Association season.

"Hell, no. How can you blame (the Warriors)? Hell, no," said Durant, who was speaking publicly for the first time since leaving for the Brooklyn Nets on a four-year, free-agent deal over a month ago.

"I heard the Warriors pressured me into getting back. Nobody never said a word to me during rehab. 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.

"It's basketball. S*** happens. Nobody was responsible for it. We just need to move on from that s*** because I'm going to be back playing."

The Warriors could not overcome the near-complete absence of Durant, the Finals' Most Valuable Player in their earlier two triumphs, as they lost 4-2 to first-time winners Toronto Raptors.

His post-season injury troubles began with a calf strain in Game 5 of the Western Conference semi-finals against the Houston Rockets.

He missed all four games of the Conference Finals sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers as well as the first four games of the NBA Finals.

PUMPED UP

I was feeling good leading up to it. I was working out every day. I was gradually getting back to doing the two-a-days. I was really locked in on my game and trying to get back. I really wanted to play in that series.

KEVIN DURANT, on the lead-up to Game 5 of last season's NBA Finals, where he tore his Achilles tendon after just 12 minutes

Durant's target was always Game 5 and there was no reason to believe he could not safely do that.

And it looked like the right decision when the All-Star forward poured in 11 points before his Achilles tendon snapped as he attempted to drive past Serge Ibaka.

He said: "I was feeling good leading up to it. I was working out every day. I was gradually getting back to doing the two-a-days.

"I was really locked in on my game and trying to get back. I really wanted to play in that series."

After the disappointing end to the season, Durant had to quickly decide his future. But despite season-long reports that he was already out the door, the 30-year-old insisted his decision to join the Nets did not come about until free agency began on June 30.

"I never wanted to disrespect the game by putting my focus on the future," he said. "It was always about that day, focusing on that day and what was most important that day."

While Durant spoke freely about a number of subjects, he was not ready to delve too deeply into the idea that November's on-court confrontation with forward Draymond Green played a role in his decision to leave.

"I'm tired of talking about that s***. We're grown men," he said.

"We understand what this is. We're playing basketball for a living. It's a business.

"Everybody congratulated me when I went to the Nets."

He also insisted his free-agency decision was always going to come down to just two teams, and neither of them were the New York Knicks, who have again been derided for their failure to sign marquee players.

"If I was leaving the Warriors, it was always going to be for the Nets," he added. "They got the pieces and a creative front office. I just like what they were building."

DPA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2019, with the headline 'Injury not Warriors' fault, says Durant'. Print Edition | Subscribe