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Kevin Durant determined to keep playing

Photo: Phoenix Suns/Twitter

When Kevin Durant received the diagnosis of a torn Achilles tendon during Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, he harbored concerns that he might never regain his superstar level of play.

“This is career-ending, I’m done,” Durant recalled thinking.

“That’s what I was thinking,” he told ESPN, “because that’s all I was hearing, that this s— is over.”

After signing with the Brooklyn Nets in the subsequent offseason, Durant opted to sit out the entire 2019-2020 season to recover. However, he made a remarkable comeback during the 2021 playoffs, reaffirming his status as one of the world’s premier players.

During the most recent season, Durant participated in 75 regular-season games, showcasing his reliability, especially compared to his younger counterparts like Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.

“My whole being has been committed to playing basketball. I didn’t think it was time yet. It’s that simple,” Durant said. “And when I’m that committed to something, I didn’t even think about anything else but, like, when are we starting recovery?

“As soon as it happened, everybody wanted to cry with me. I did that for a second, crying, because everybody else was crying, and then I’m like, ‘When are we doing surgery? When can I start my recovery process?’ And that’s how it was, man. I’m ready to get back, quick.”

Durant’s comeback wasn’t solely motivated by his passion for basketball; it held deeper existential significance for him.

“I think all these guys love it,” he said. “It just feels like life or death for me since day one growing up. If I wasn’t doing this, what the f— else am I doing? Until the wheels fall off. I can’t just not be the best basketball player that I can be every day. That’s been the mentality in my head since I was 8 years old.

“I had no other choice but to go back to work. I wasn’t going to go back and be like, ‘Mom, Dad, Bro, Sis, Godfather — all my whole family that has been trusting in me and believing in me that I’m living for and I’m pushing this family name for every day — [and say] ‘I’m done, I tore my Achilles.’ Like, what the f— you mean? You’re done? You can’t be done.”

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