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Durant's injury a glimpse at worst-case scenario for Leonard, Raptors

5 8 0
12.06.2019

There but for the Grace of God goes Kawhi.

You wonder if that thought — or some version of it — was running through the heads of the Toronto Raptors decision makers and medical staff or Kawhi Leonard as Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant was being helped off the floor at Scotiabank Arena early in the second quarter of Game 5 on Monday night.

It clearly wasn’t front and centre for the (small?) portion of Raptors fans who briefly seemed to delight in Durant’s injury before they either realized the severity of it or how bad they looked taking pleasure in another’s misfortune. Or they took the cue from the likes of Kyle Lowry or Serge Ibaka to check themselves as Durant was being gathered up.

But it doesn’t take much imagination to recognize that it could have been Leonard helped off the floor, not to return, his basketball future very much in doubt.

Certainly Leonard had no difficulty empathizing with Durant’s plight, not after missing nearly an entire season last year and spending all of this one balancing the demands of his job with what his body could reasonably give.

“What do I think about his situation?” Leonard said after Game 5 when asked about Durant. “It’s devastating … You work so hard to get to this point, these are the last games … and I feel bad for him. I’ve been in that situation before.

“I hope he has a speedy recovery, and just gets healthy and I hope that he’s going to be OK mentally, just throughout the whole rehab process. Because like I said before, we work so hard to either play in the Finals or just play in the NBA, and when you’re not playing, it’s hard to wrap your mind around it. But I’m pretty sure he’s going to attack each day and get better and come back strong.”

Consider the parallels: There was a superstar free-agent-to-be — Durant — trying to play at the highest level while recovering from a pre-existing injury after having his character questioned in the process.

And there was said free-agent-to-be leaving the arena on crutches, his right leg in a walking boot, his season done and his off-season and the chance to sign a long-term contract worth many, many millions suddenly jeopardized, not to mention his team’s........

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