Kevin Durant going down with an Achilles’ tendon injury during Game 5 of the NBA Finals was an absolute worst outcome nobody wanted to see. The guy was trying to grit through an injury and lead his team to a championship, was playing well, but went down early in the second quarter with an injury. Golden State Warriors President of Basketball Operations Bob Myers said after the game that Durant had been medically cleared to play and nobody was to blame for the unfortunate outcome. Regardless of what he says, the Warriors were still irresponsible in their handling of Durant’s injury and return.
First, let me get this out of the way: the decision to allow Durant to play in Game 5 was not necessarily irresponsible. Without knowing more information about who did or didn’t want him to play, if Durant wanted to play and was refusing to be told no, he has the power to override any medical recommendation.
Where the Warriors erred was with the way they handled Durant’s return.
They gave him no minutes restriction and made him the focal point of the offense, asking him to do everything as if he had never missed a game. That was entirely too much for a guy playing his first game in over a month, with limited practice time, who had just suffered a setback 3-4 days earlier. When DeMarcus Cousins returned from his quad injury, he was eased into action and had a minutes limit. That is typical for a player returning from a lower body injury to avoid aggravating it.
Also consider that Durant tried to work out and play in Game 4 on Friday night but was not able to do it, which was described by Brian Windhorst as a setback. ESPN’s Jalen Rose also said before Game 4 that Durant’s workout the day before did not go well. He said he felt like Durant might not return for the series.