Everybody seems to have a take on whether or not Kevin Durant should have played in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, with many blaming the Golden State Warriors for forcing their All-Star back into the lineup when he wasn’t completely healthy.
But NBA analyst Jalen Rose has a different take, and its scope is much more broad than just the Warriors franchise alone.
Ever since his decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and sign with the Warriors, Durant has been the NBA’s favourite villain. Born out of that decision was a new narrative that began to paint Durant in a villainous light, and it’s been snowballing ever since.
With his team down 1-3 in the NBA Finals, Durant, as Rose explains in the video below, knew what fans and pundits were going to say about him if he missed Game 5. And in the interest of proving them wrong, KD essentially decided to play on an injured calf that reportedly was nowhere near 100%.
— First Take (@FirstTake) June 11, 2019
“There’s a heard mentality that takes place when you are a professional athlete, and all of a sudden when you start to make a lot of money, people think you’re immune to everything that comes with being a human being,” Rose said in the video.
“And so, if the Golden State Warriors were up 3-1, KD would not have returned. But since they were down 3-1, he was forced to return based on all of the chatter that we knew was going to take place. ‘He’s soft.’ ‘He really didn’t want it.’ ‘He wasn’t committed to the team.’ Oh, ‘and he was leaving anyway.’ And he (KD) knows that. That’s why he decided he wanted to come back.”
Rose, who used to play for the Toronto Raptors, also had a message for those who were outraged over the handling of Durant’s injury.
“People will bring flowers to your funeral but don’t bring you soup when you’re sick. That’s what I’m seeing for KD right now. Everybody's fake acting like they care about KD's best interest when they don't. It’s phony to me.”
No one comes out unscathed with Rose’s take — not the Warriors, NBA fans or the media. And while it’s tough to directly blame anyone for such a freak injury, it’s fair to assume that Durant can be influenced by the negative narrative that surrounds him.
We have yet to receive confirmation, but Durant’s injury is believed to be a torn Achilles tendon, which would put him on the shelf for approximately 12 months. He has a $31.5 million player’s option for the 2019-2020 season — remember all that talk about KD going to the Knicks? — but after last night’s injury, it’s pretty much a no-brainer for Durant to opt in for one more season in Golden State.
More Raptors coverage from Yahoo Sports