Basketball must protect Kevin Durant

–Kevin Durant has been a rising force since dominating the FIBA world championships in Turkey in 2010 and leading USA to Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016.

He’s loved and respected by team-mates and opponents alike. He’s polite with the press, and he even played the role of photographer at the Super Bowl. It’s hard not to like a talented, classy guy like Kevin Durant.



He’s the most unstoppable player in the league.

Other teams can’t stop him. He can’t even stop himself, such is his love for the game.



Thus the league should have stopped him from risking his health in Game 5 of the NBA finals, where he ruptured his Achilles tendon, which could cost him a year and millions in potential income.

Durant, a real warrior, wouldn’t stop himself from playing; of course he thinks he can play through injuries. His agent, coaches, doctors and Golden State Warriors management all had understandable reasons to not stop him from playing, especially since he looked good hitting shots in the pre-game warm-up, and then during the game.

But the league should have stopped it. The NBA front office has more power than any individual team or player. They have the power to fine or suspend anyone. They have concussion protocols to protect players with any sign of head injuries. They had a more neutral and objective view of the situation.

They should have seen what many fans or neutral observers could see. Durant, recovering from a “calf” injury, was at heightened risk of a worse injury. It was a worst case scenario, and a predictable one. And that’s exactly what happened.

It never should have happened. Durant should not have played. Durant, if playing, only should have been a spot shooter hanging out by the three-point line. But it happened. Durant and the Warriors, in the heat of battle down 3-1 in the series, got over-confident. Durant tried a signature move to beat former OKC team-mate Serge Ibaka off the dribble. His Achilles tendon ruptured, and down went the Gentle Giant.

It’s too late now, and the whole league wants Durant back.

But it’s not too late to seize this opportunity to stop this from ever happening again. The NBA has taken decisive action to protect players from owners in Los Angeles and the Bay area who disrespected players. The NBA, unlike tennis or other sports, insists players get at least a year of college instead of jumping straight out of high school in most cases. The league has done well to protect and hype its assets. Players such as Durant, two-time finals MVP, are simply too valuable to risk.

(words and images copyright Christopher Johnson Globalite Media all rights reserved).


BASKETBALL: On the sidelines with TEAM USA in Manchester