Kevin Durant went down in Monday’s Game 5, clutching at his right leg — something few basketball fans wanted to see. Some of those fans, though, were apparently in attendance at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto and cheered at Durant’s misfortune.
That display brought a quick rebuke both online and from some Raptors players, who encouraged their home crowd to cheer for the injured player rather than for his painful circumstance. Fans complied, giving the Golden State Warriors star a hand and chanting “KD! KD!” as he left the court.
Durant was injured in the second quarter of Monday’s game, after getting off to a solid start in his first action since May 8, when he first hurt his lower leg during a second-round playoff game against the Houston Rockets.
With the Warriors down 3-1 in the Finals and facing a do-or-die scenario, Durant took the risk of worsening his injury by playing. The reigning two-time Finals MVP was reported during the ABC telecast as dealing with “raw emotions” after he got to the Golden State locker room.
Meanwhile, Raptors fans were sharply criticized online for their initial reaction to his apparent injury. Philadelphia 76ers all-star Joel Embiid, watching from afar, was moved to describe the display as “disgusting” while tweeting: “Why are they cheering for his injury? Come on man.”
ABC’s Doris Burke reported during the third quarter Monday that Durant would not return to the game and he would get an MRI exam on Tuesday.
After the game, which the Warriors managed to win despite the loss of Durant, Golden State Coach Steve Kerr said of the forward’s injury to reporters, “Some of the fans were cheering when it happened. The Raptors players understood how serious it was. There was a couple of minutes there where it all seemed so eerie and strange.”
Warriors General Manager Bob Myers followed Kerr at the postgame news conference, and he grew emotional while announcing that Durant had suffered an injury to his Achilles'. Depending on the severity, that could put Durant’s 2019-20 season in jeopardy, after a summer in which he was expected to become a coveted free agent.
“He was cleared to play tonight. That was a collaborative decision," Myers said of Durant. "I don’t believe there’s anybody to blame. I understand this world, if you have to, you can blame me. I run our basketball operations department.”
When it was Golden State star Stephen Curry’s turn to address the media, he referred to the fact that he briefly lived in Toronto as a youngster while his father, Dell Curry, finished his NBA career with the Raptors.
Calling Raptors fans “nice people” with “passion and excitement for the game,” Curry said he was “very confused about that reaction,” because it was “not my experience with people of this city.” He commended Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and Danny Green for “kind of signaling to the crowd, like, let’s check ourselves a little bit.”
“This is about an individual, a human being, and not, ‘Oh, shoot he’s hurt, we won the championship,’ ” Curry added. "That was probably the initial thought, and you hate to see that when a guy’s going through pain like that.
“So again, that’s not my experience with this city, and I just hope that ugliness doesn’t show itself again, as we go forward in this series.”
The Finals move back to Oakland for Thursday’s Game 6, and if the Warriors win, Game 7 will be played Sunday in Toronto. Durant will be a spectator again, as he had been for more than a month, but this time with likely a much longer timetable for recovery.