Before Kevin Durant tore his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, many believed he was returning to the court too soon from his calf strain that he sustained in the Western Conference semifinals.
Among those in that camp included Durant’s former teammate and close friend Kendrick Perkins, who confronted the 10-time All-Star about continuing to sit out.
“After that talk we didn’t talk for weeks, maybe a month,” Perkins said. ”We got back cool, we reached out and everything is fine. He didn’t have nothing to prove, man. As a real friend outside of basketball, and as a big brother, he looks up to me, too. Sometimes I’m going to tell you things you don’t wanna hear. I don’t gain nothing if you play or don’t play. I’m looking out for you — as KD as a person — while Golden State was just looking out for Golden State and how they were going to win a championship.”
The Warriors were facing elimination the night Durant returned to the court and his presence appeared to make an immediate impact.
Durant scored 11 points in 12 minutes before he collapsed on the court grabbing his Achilles. He had surgery the next day and while it did not affect his free agency — he signed a four-year max deal with a player option in the final year — he will still miss the entire 2019-20 season.
Perkins said that he was only trying to paint the bigger picture for his friend.
“My thing is to KD, bro, you have maybe 10-plus years left to play this game of basketball,” he said. “You’re already back-to-back Finals MVP, back-to-back NBA champs, y’all was down 3-1 at the time like, ok, man just let it play out, man. Don’t play with this injury, just sit out.
“He went back-and-forth man and … was feeling fine and the plan was to come back Game 5. Well, a lot of times the plan is you have a set date, and a lot of times the date gets set back because you’re not ready to play.”
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