Home / Sports / NBA Finals 2019: Kevin Durant of Warriors has a career opportunity ahead of him, but also a career to think about

NBA Finals 2019: Kevin Durant of Warriors has a career opportunity ahead of him, but also a career to think about

The debate over whether these Golden State Warriors need Kevin Durant is over, if it ever was a debate. The two-time defending champion took the lead in the final 3-1 against a multi-faceted team from Toronto Raptors, and suddenly KD feels like the last man between dynasty and defeat.

Is he ready to play in Game 5 on Monday?

Should he play in Game 5 even if he is not fully prepared yet?

These are two very different, very complex questions, and somewhere within the difficult answers may lie the legacy of an all-time player and a team. Nobody knows for the first question if Durant will play in Game 5 on Monday. Shortly after Game 4, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported that both Durant and the Warriors were frustrated by his lack of progress. It was initially thought to be a two-week injury, possibly a little more, depending on how he responded to the treatment. We now have five weeks to go if the ball is tipped in Game 5.

"Durant just is not finished," said Windhorst. "His body is not ready, the coaches do not believe it, he does not believe it, he tried to do a few things in training [on Thursday]it did not work."

So, now we wait and see if these two next days will bring the breakthrough for Durant and the Warriors. It is out of the question. On Thursday, Dr. Alan Beyer, orthopedist and senior medical director at the Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Southern California, CBS Sports, at this time in Durant's rehab: "It's really day after day."

"This injury is a matter of achievement," Dr. Beyer to CBS Sports. "Durant is a guy who needs the absolute best performance of his gastroc muscle (calf) for jumping, he can not do the things he needs to play, and again, it's not feasible to play in time Or he could wake up and have the breakthrough he needs, step up his activities on the field, and go out again. "

The elephant in the room is natural for all the boys we've seen Roll up your sleeves and play hurt, certainly in games as important as the NBA finals. Klay Thompson asked the warriors in vain to let him play in Game 3, and then scored 28 points in Game 4 on a hindquarters. Kevon Looney has played Game 4 with a broken rib. Kawhi Leonard hobbled around as if he had a nail stuck in his leg at the Eastern Conference finals, and he is obviously still not well. But he plays. And dominant.

The downside, of course, is that Leonard did not play for the Spurs last year. Not just in the playoffs, but almost the whole season. He was injured, and even as the team became frustrated and began to question his injury until they completely undermined their relationship, he did what was best for him and his career, and now he is here a portrait of patience and stamina just before winning a championship.

Durant, too, has to think about his basketball future, and in this future the warriors may not be considered. "If [Durant] comes back on a partially torn calf and then ruptures it completely, that would be a serious injury," Dr. Beyer. A completely torn calf, Dr. Beyer, could affect him the rest of his career. In the worst case, balancing an unstable calf muscle could jeopardize Durant's ability to tear the Achilles tendon a bit off its current injury site. It's devastating to think about it, but if you're Durant, the free representative of the marquee this summer, who still has years of elite playing, you have to do it.

Do you remember when Isaiah Thomas in 201

7 played his hip injury in the Boston Celtics playoffs? He was never the same. He switched from a top 5 MVP nominee to an end-of-bench journeyman clinging to a career. He lost tens of millions of dollars, which he would surely have earned if his health had not left him. Do you think for a second that Thomas does not question this decision to push his body every day? In his private moments one would understand, if he regrets it, even if he has respect among his teammates and coaches.

Regret of course cuts different paths. And maybe just as deep. Opportunities like Durant's are not common. If ever. How much would he regret not exploiting it? We know what is at stake for the warriors when they try to dig up this 3: 1 hole. A three-way A fourth title in five years. A legitimate case as the most dominant team in NBA history. But even if they can not do it, their place in the Pantheon of the great teams of all time is safe. Maybe one or two places down the list, but on the list. No question.

For Durant, it's more complicated – fitting for his three-year tenure at the Golden State, which has raised so many unanswerable questions. For example, how can the best player in the league be the best player in his own team? While Durant's absence continues to validate his importance, even in a team with a core that has won an NBA record of 73 games and a title without him, it is his potential return that represents the key to ultimate and intimate appreciation for a player Many still believe that – whether fair or not – they have taken the easy way out.

The first two titles could not change that.

That would definitely be.

Oddly enough, Durant's legacy as one of the greatest players ever to live feels more secure than his legacy with the warriors, who were and always will be Stephen Curry's team. It's very similar to Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, who are dynamic with the Yankees. A-Rod was more talented. Jeter was more loved. The difference is that A-Rod never saved the Yankees in a way that Jeter alone could not. Durant, on the other hand, is capable of doing just that.

Indeed, it has become clear that Curry can not provide championships to these warriors alone. He needs Durant. The Warriors need Durant. The opportunity to return to the field in Game 5 or limp and somehow lead the Warriors to victory after a 3-1 deficit is an opportunity one dreams of and will probably never show again.

It might sound crazy that a guy who has not played basketball for nearly five weeks could just roll out there again and lead that kind of resurrection, no less against a Raptors team playing out of his head, but Durant is just that kind of talent. If it's another player in the league who does not call LeBron James, forget it. Does not happen. But if Durant is in the lineup next Monday, you'd better believe the warriors have a chance.

But does Durant want to take this opportunity? Are the warriors ready to ask him to take this chance? Even with 60 percent Durant is a difference maker. With 75 percent, he is able to be a strong scorer, even if he only uses his length to shoot over the top of the defenders. If he plays, Kawhi will protect him. This takes Leonard from someone else. These are all very good things for the warriors who really only need to win the fifth game to be back.

If you do, Game 6 will be back at Oracle. This will be the last game in this building before the team moves to San Francisco. The place will go crazy. With Durant back, you would have to favor the warriors at home. Then it's Game 7 and everything is possible. If you divide it one by one, it is doable. Not likely, but doable.

But only when Durant comes back. This is the only card in the stack that can bring the warriors back into the game, and possibly the only chance Durant has to confirm his decision to get into the Golden State in the first place. When it all started, he needed the warriors more than they needed him. They had won without him. But now things have changed. The warriors have changed. They are older and not so deep and much more vulnerable and they drown.

If Durant somehow saved her, he would be a hero. He would not have to go to the Knicks or anywhere to prove more. The burden would be gone. It would just remain the celebration of one of the five biggest players who ever lived. A question that has been answered for a lifetime, and if he can muster the strength, may be okay.

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