When he saw Kevin Durant fall to the floor clutching the back of his leg Monday night, Tiger Woods could sympathize with how the Golden State Warriors star felt. Like Durant, Woods has grappled with the delicate calculus when a decision to risk serious injury by continuing to play comes out unfavorably for a great athlete.
“It was sad,” Woods told reporters Tuesday at Pebble Beach, where he will play in the U.S. Open starting Thursday. “As athletes, we’ve all been there to that spot when you just know it, that something just went, and can’t move, can’t do much of anything. And you can see it on his face, how solemn his face went. He knows it when things pop. You just know.”
Playing Monday for the first time since he injured his calf May 8, Durant went down in the first quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals with what the Golden State Warriors say is an Achilles’ injury. He reportedly underwent an MRI Tuesday in New York.
Woods, 43, has dealt with a number of injuries that have sidelined him for lengthy periods of time. Besides his personal travails, he has rehabbed and returned from four back and knee surgeries.
“I’ve been there. I’ve had it to my own Achilles’, “ Woods said. “I’ve had it to my own back. I know what it feels like. It’s an awful feeling. And no one can help you. That’s the hard part. And whether he has a procedure going forward or not, or whatever it is, his offseason, what that entails, that’s the hardest part about it is the offseason or the rehab.”
Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open despite a torn anterior cruciate ligament and broken leg, but some injuries just can’t be gutted through. Woods had back surgeries in order to compete, of course, but also because he couldn’t live a normal, pain-free life. Durant, who is only 30 and at the peak of his career, is now facing a lengthy and potentially lonely recovery process.
“I mean, if he popped it, then that’s six to nine months of rehabbing,” Woods said. “That’s what people don’t see, is all those long hours that really do suck.”
Durant conceivably could miss all of the 2019-20 NBA season and Woods, speaking for non-athletes everywhere, asked, “Why do we do it?"
“Because we’re competitors,” he answered. “As athletes, our job is to make the human body do something it was never meant to do and to do it efficiently and better than anybody who is doing it at the same time. Well, sometimes things go awry. And we saw it [Monday] night with Kevin.”
The Warriors lost Durant but eked out a one-point win in Game 5 to keep the series alive. As for Woods, on the same day the Warriors return to the floor, he’ll begin trying to win his second major championship of the golf season and his 16th overall.
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