I stated yesterday that I was going to talk about the many things I enjoyed about my recent vacation unless something wild happened in other pop culture stuff that I write about, and we had the KD incident during game 5 last night. I have to give my thoughts on this today.
First off, I was one of the people that did not think he was going to play at all in the Finals, and I still thought the Warriors would win, with ease I might add, without him. After he grabbed at his calf, without being touched by anyone, I just assumed it was much worse than a strained calf. I had feared for him that he tore his ACL. You usually don't see an athlete grab at a part of their body, untouched, and it is as simple as a strain. That is usually a sign of something much worse. So, when he missed the rest of the Rockets series, and didn't play at all in the West Finals, I just assumed they were going to sit him out, and that he would sit out to save himself for free agency. The Warriors were also clicking insanely well, as I wrote about after the West Finals, and I just assumed this was going to be the end of the KD Warriors as we knew them.
Well, the Raptors had other ideas. They came out like a wrecking ball in game one of the Finals. They looked locked and loaded. Kawhi was, and still is, playing at a whole other level. The Raptors beat the Warriors, but Golden State came back and won game 2. Then they looked really, really bad, at home, in games 3 and 4. Steph was trying to draw fouls instead of just shooting the ball. Klay would come and go, and his defense was inconsistent. Draymond was a turnover machine. Kevon Looney, who was playing well, broke his clavicle I believe. Boogie Cousins was even more inconsistent than Klay. And their team defense was just horrendous. They didn't just get beat in games 3 and 4, they got schooled. The Raptors were beating them at their own game, and they were making it look clinical.
So, after game 4, in which the Raptors simply destroyed the Warriors, especially in the third quarter, the rumors started to swirl that KD may play. Then, he was cleared for practice on Sunday. When I saw that I was kind of stunned. I mean, he hadn't played in over a month, all the reports that were coming out prior had said that he couldn't fully participate in all the drills, he wasn't playing 3 on 3 or 5 on 5 games. It was all bad news. So, when he got cleared, I shook off the initial shock and I then realized he was going to play in game 5 no matter what. I assumed this was going to be the modern Willis Reed moment, look it up. But, he came out and he made his first 2 three pointers. He then dove on the floor for loose balls. He was playing okay defense. He didn't look fully healthy, but he looked a hell of a lot better than I expected. He scored 11 points in the first, and I just assumed he was back. Then, while making a simple move early in the second, he immediately lost the ball and clutched at the back of his already injured leg. This time though, it was higher up. I said out loud, "OH NO". This was the absolute worst possible scenario I could think of for the Warriors, but more importantly, KD. This was the biggest fear, and it was coming clear to all of us watching the game that he was hurt, and he should not have been out on that court last night.
Now, I do want to say, for all the guff I have given KD since joining the Warriors, I take it all back. For him to come out and give it a go last night was amazing. He sacrificed himself for his team. He knew that they needed him, and he went out there, even though he wasn't even close to being healthy. You could see the lift he gave the Warriors just by being on the floor. He is a true basketball player. I gained so much more respect after seeing him out there last night. I don't blame him one bit for wanting to play. He went there to win titles, and when his team had their backs against the wall, he played even though he knew he wasn't fully ready. This is the case with most high caliber athletes. They want to play, and if they feel ready, good luck telling them no.
Who I blame for this horrendous, and preventable injury, is the Warriors team doctors, front office and Steve Kerr. Kerr, above anyone else, should have known that he wasn't ready. He was a former player. He has been around KD for three years now. He knows the toll winning multiple titles takes on the body. Yet, he still let him play last night. I think he has gotten so greedy with his titles that he was willing to look past his best overall player clearly injured, and he put him in the game knowing he could further injure himself. Kerr has also been wildly outcoached in this series, and I think he supposed putting KD in might mask that. As far as the owners, I think they realize this is probably the last shot with this current team, so they threw caution aside, and safety, and told the team they needed to play KD last night. They too are greedy, they are leaving Oakland, and they are most likely losing KD. So, they decided that they needed to throw him out there for one last hurrah. They don't play, they are just rich Silicon Valley guys, and I'm sure they figured he has had enough time off. They had to have had a say in him playing last night. Also, the fact that team doctors cleared him to play last night is appalling to me. As I said, he was making shots and diving her and there, but you could see he wasn't fully right. He wasn't slashing and cutting to the rim. He was shooting set shots. He couldn't move very well laterally on defense. He was clearly not even close to 100 percent. It is disgusting that team doctors cleared him last night. I cannot believe, at this high a level of basketball, that some people with their PHD's decided that he was okay to play high level NBA basketball. I hope those doctors are losing sleep now that this has happened.
This is a real bummer. This is so much worse than what happened in the series against the Rockets. This was on display for all to see last night. Again, I do not blame KD one bit. He is a basketball player. But, for all those other people I mentioned, to put him out there, that is a drag man. He now, and there is no official word yet, has probably a year of recovery time before he gets back to being KD. That is a shame. I wish him a speedy recovery, but it didn't have to be like this. This didn't have to happen. What a bummer.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet.
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