Kevin Durant has a long rehabilitation ahead of him, and that’s something Kawhi Leonard is all too familiar with.
Kevin Durant tore his Achilles during Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and he had surgery to get it fixed on Wednesday.
He now has a long rehab process ahead of him.
One person who can relate to that journey is 2019 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard; he had some words of advice and encouragement for Durant this week.
“Just from my own experience, I can talk from what I’ve been through,” Leonard said after Game 5. “As I said, we work so hard to get to this point and the game gets taken away from you, especially with leg injuries and things like that, you’re not really able to run or do anything on the floor. You want to come back as the player that you were. Make sure you come back when you feel healthy and you feel good enough that you feel confident enough in yourself to go back out there on the floor. Know that that day will come. And just like I said, attack each day. That’s your assignment, to get back to the thing that you love to do.”
Leonard only played nine games for the San Antonio Spurs last season because of a quad injury, but he came back relatively healthy this season and, after being traded to the Toronto Raptors in the offseason, dominated the 2019 NBA Playoffs. Once his issue healed, he was able to lead the postseason in points, rebounds, and steals. That hasn’t happened in 35 years.
Any guess who the last player to do that was? It wasn’t Michael Jordan. It was Larry Bird.
Durant felt a lot of pressure from the media to reenter the playoffs this year, and that could be why he came back too early and suffered an even more serious injury than a calf strain.
Leonard understands the situation that Durant finds himself in, and it’s unfortunate that this happened to Durant right before free agency. However, he’s a smart player, a hard worker, and one of the most skilled guys to ever play basketball.