This is not how the Golden State Warriors dynasty was supposed to end.
After spending the past five seasons bullying the league with otherworldly ball movement, immaculate execution and a top-heavy roster featuring three of the greatest scorers in the history of the league, the Warriors’ third NBA championship in a row—something so fucking hard that it’s only happened five times in league history—went from inevitable to improbable on May 8 when Kevin Durant suffered a strained calf against the Houston Rockets during Game 5 of the Conference Semifinals.
In the immediate aftermath of watching Durant go out like Ricky in Boyz n the Hood, the entire NBA community feared the worst: that the league’s best player had either torn or ruptured his Achilles tendon—which is the NBA injury equivalent of dating a Kardashian. It’s the kiss of death that literally no player has ever come 100 percent back from. I mean, our beloved Kanye went from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to My Beautiful Dark Twisted MAGA Hat. On the hardwood, It’s the same difference.
Thankfully, Durant suffered the lesser of the two evils that night and incurred a much more manageable strained calf instead. So while Durant busted his ass to nurse his calf—a topic of notable dispute as of late—and tried to come back in time for the NBA Finals, his teammates were forced to dig deep and revert to their nearly invincible 2015-16 selves, dismantling the Portland Trailblazers in the Conference Finals along the way.
Then the NBA Finals happened and shit got real quick.
A healthy Warriors squad would destroy the Toronto Raptors with ease. But with Kevin Durant out, sharpshooter Klay Thompson missing a game—that the Warriors lost in his absence—with a hamstring injury, invaluable reserve Kevin Looney in and out of the lineup with a collarbone fracture, Demarcus Cousins struggling to return from his own pair of gruesome injuries and Drake behaving like a scorned ex on the sidelines, the Warriors have looked just as vulnerable as they sound. And with blood in the water, the Raptors showed no mercy, propelling themselves to a startling 3-1 Finals lead.
But if Durant came back, the Warriors could still pull this out, right? I mean, sure. Only one other team in the history of the NBA has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals, but with KD, the Warriors could do it too, right?
That certainly appeared to be the case.
After missing an entire month of action, Durant made his triumphant return during Game 5 on Monday night, destroying the Raptors with 11 points in only 12 minutes of play before this happened:
Jaws dropped. Fear resurfaced. That can’t be what we think it is, can it?
It turns out it’s even worse.
After the Warriors gritty 106-105 victory to keep their championship hopes alive, their General Manager Bob Myers delivered a tearful prognosis during a post-game press conference:
“It’s an Achilles injury,” he says tearfully. “I don’t know the extent of it.”
NBC Sports reports that it’s not just an Achilles tendon injury, but that the Warriors believe it’s a tear.
The Kardashian kiss of death?! Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
Which means the earliest Durant would be expected back would be next June. Which means he’ll most likely miss the entire upcoming season. It also means there’s a high likelihood that Durant won’t ever be the same unstoppable force ever again.
An MRI is scheduled for Tuesday to determine the extent of the injury, but in the meantime, NBA Twitter is gutted.
Durant was expected to exercise the player-option in his contract and become one of the most sought after free agents in what promises to be a dizzying offseason. But now all we can do is hold our breath and hope the good Lord spares what remains of Durant’s basketball career.