By Ethan Salm
At 1:42 on Monday afternoon, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted out that Kevin Durant would return from the calf injury he suffered against the Houston Rockets on May 8. The Golden State Warriors were facing a 3-1 series deficit with Game 5 in Toronto and there was a lot of speculation about the extent of Durant’s injury. It was classified as a right calf strain, which has a recovery time of anywhere between seven days to three months, but usually takes about 4-6 weeks to completely heal. Durant started the game and at the end of the first quarter had 11 points. With 9:50 left in the first half, Durant had the ball taken from him by Raptors power forward Serge Ibaka. On this play, Durant seemed to roll his right ankle. He immediately grabbed at his right calf/Achilles area and fell to the floor. A close-up video of the injury would emerge online as the game progressed. It shows the Achilles and calf area of his right leg ripple as the injury occurs. You can see the video here. He would then be carried off the floor and back to the locker room by Stephen Curry and Andre Igoudala. After the game, which the Warriors won 106-105, the General Manager of the team, Bob Myers, confirmed that the injury was to Durant’s Achilles and that an MRI would tell the severity of the injury on Tuesday.
Kevin Durant has received a lot of hate since leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to join Golden State in the summer of 2016. Monday night it went too far. As Durant sat on the floor pinching his Achilles, you could tell by the look on his face that he knew his season was over. When a player gets injured in a sporting event the game stops, the players and the crowd quiet down as the medical staff for the team treat the injured player and the crowd usually gives a small round of applause as the player makes their way off the court or field. That is what fans are supposed to do in the case of an injury. That is respect.
However, the opposite happened in Toronto on Monday. The crowd actually started cheering louder as Durant sat on the floor in pain. As the ABC broadcast showed different angles of Durant sitting on the floor, you could see Raptors fans jeering and waving goodbye to him. The Raptors players were visibly trying to quiet the crowd and by the time Durant was carried off the court the crowd had finally quieted down.
If you are a fan of any team, there will be players that you like and dislike. That’s just how sports work. Even if you dislike a player, it is never acceptable to cheer when someone gets injured. I have watched a lot of sports during my life and have never seen opposing fans cheer when a player gets injured. That moment Monday night is when I realized that this absurd hatred of Kevin Durant is ridiculous and uncalled for.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that people hate the fact that I play for the Warriors, and people hate the fact that I’m so damn good at basketball,” said Durant in a 2018 interview with Chris Haynes. “They don’t like that combination.”
I would agree with this statement. I have come across my fair share of “KD haters,” and the usual reasons for the hate are because he ruined the league by leaving OKC to join the team that won the most games in NBA history and because he’s really good at basketball.
When it comes to Durant’s choice to join the Warriors, I think it is best to use a hypothetical situation to explain why the hatred is uncalled for. Pretend that you are a young talented NBA player for the Orlando Magic: The city you play in is a decent size, the fans love you and you have a few good teammates. You make the playoffs every year and the team is a championship contender but rarely makes the championship. It is pretty evident to you that even as you get better, it will be near impossible to win a title because the Magic doesn’t have as much talent as the other teams that consistently make the playoffs. Then the Boston Celtics, the team that beat you in the playoffs and won the title, offer you a contract. The Celtics have more stars, a bigger market and a better chance to win a title, but going to Boston would mean leaving the Magic, who drafted you.
What do you choose? Winning titles with a new team, or staying with the team that drafted you but with no guarantee that a title shot will come?
We all know Durant chose winning titles, and why should he be hated for that? He chose what was best for him and his career. Not only did Durant do that, but he won multiple titles, back to back NBA Finals MVP, was a part of one of the greatest NBA dynasties of all time and cemented his place in the Hall of Fame when he finishes playing. Sounds like a pretty smart career move to me.
The second reason Durant is hated is because of his talent. I think that hating players because they’re good is pointless. Durant worked extremely hard to get where he is today. He recorded countless hours in gyms putting up shots and working to get better. He is a game changing player and one of the best to ever play the game. That is no reason to hate him. It is fine to dislike Durant because he eliminates your team from the playoffs, but even when you dislike someone you should still have respect and appreciation for them.
If you hate Kevin Durant or you were happy when he went down injured on Monday night, shame on you. He obviously was not 100% when he took the court, but he wanted to help his team win another championship. It took a tremendous amount of heart and guts to come out and play when he knew the risk of re-injury was high. The NBA is better when he is on the court.
It is time to stop hating on Kevin Durant. Please show a little respect and appreciation for one of the best to ever play. Get well soon KD.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org