TORONTO (CBS/AP) — Former Philadelphia 76ers great Charles Barkley is pointing the finger at the Golden Warriors for Kevin Durant suffering a serious Achilles injury during Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors. Durant had not played in an NBA game in more than a month after injuring his calf during the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets.
Durant got hurt on a dribble on the right wing during the second quarter, coming up lame on a crossover move and falling to the floor. He grabbed the back of his leg, appeared to grab below the calf and more toward the Achilles area, and needed help to limp to the bench area and more help to get back to the Warriors’ locker room.
Barkley said Durant should not have been out on the court.
“I blame the Warriors for KD getting hurt and I don’t care what they say about it. They shouldn’t have put that man out there, and you know how I know it, because he blew out his Achilles,” the Hall of Famer told ESPN.
Durant was set to be a marquee free agent this summer but now may end up exercising his $31.5 million option to stay with the Warriors, especially if he’s going to be sidelined for an extended period.
Barkley told ESPN that it wasn’t fair to Durant to expect him to play after such a long layoff.
“I don’t think you can ever leave it up to a player because players always want to play. I think if you ask any rational player … to put a guy who hasn’t played basketball in over a month into Game 5 of the finals and have some type of move around the day before, I don’t think it’s fair to that man, and you saw the result and it’s not fair,” Barkley said. “It’s Game 5 of the world championships. He hasn’t played real basketball in a month, that’s unfair to put him in that situation and the proof is in the pudding, plain and simple.”
Durant had been cleared by the Warriors’ medical staff after Game 4, and participated in both a practice session Sunday and a shootaround practice earlier Monday. The Warriors had said throughout his monthlong absence that they did not want him back on the floor until he was right, for fear of a scenario where Durant aggravated the injury and had no chance of returning this season.
Warriors general manager Bob Myers was teary when he gave the news after the game on Monday night. An MRI will be performed Tuesday to determine the severity, but Durant’s season is clearly over and his recovery will likely take several months if the Achilles is indeed torn.
“He’s one of the most misunderstood people,” Myers said. “He’s a good teammate, he’s a good person, it’s not fair. I’m lucky to know him. I don’t have all the information on what really the extent of what it all means until we get a MRI, but the people that worked with him and cleared him are good people, they’re good people.”
Myers said that he is willing to accept the blame for the decision to play Durant in Game 5.
“I don’t believe there’s anybody to blame, but I understand in this world and if you have to, you can blame me,” Myers said. “I run our basketball operations department. And to tell you something about Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant loves to play basketball, and the people that questioned whether he wanted to get back to this team were wrong.”
Durant had 11 points in 12 minutes, making all three of his 3-point attempts. He started and played the first six minutes, then had the lower leg wrapped with a heating pad to keep it loose before he returned about three minutes later.
Golden State won 106-105, cutting Toronto’s lead in the NBA Finals to 3-2.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)