Kevin Durant as a Net is finally reality
Seventeen months. It has been 17 months of spec, imagining Kevin Durant as a Net, visualizing that, picturing it. July 1, 2019, to Dec. 1, 2020 — think about the profound changes in our world across those 17 months. Can you even think back that far? Does your memory have that much bandwidth?
Yet here we are. And there he was: Bedecked in a gray T-shirt, “NETS BASKETBALL” stenciled on the front alongside the NBA logo, looking much the same as he looked the last time we saw him on a basketball court, the terrible night of June 11, 2019, limping off the floor of Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Durant played only 12 minutes that night, making all three of his 3-point attempts, scoring 11 points, doing his part to extend the Warriors’ reign as NBA champs a couple more nights with a stirring 106-105 win. By game’s end, though, he knew he was bound for an MRI tube. By the time the Raptors wrapped up the title a few nights later, back in Oakland, Durant had entered a sad acceptance of his fate.
“I’m hurting deep in my soul right now,” he’d said on Instagram.
By month’s end, he would switch coasts, stun the NBA by selecting Brooklyn over the Bay (and the Bowery). For those 17 months we have seen him watch, and wait, and we have wondered what it would be like, what he would be like, once the Achilles was healed and the body was rehabbed and the marriage with the Nets — and Kyrie Irving — deemed official.
And now, here we are.
“I feel good,” he said, time and again, occasionally allowing himself a smile for the Zoom camera, his time as an active Net finally at hand. “Now I’ve got to see how I’ll feel in an NBA game again.”
That, of course, is the $164 million question for both Durant and the Nets as training camp opens alongside the Brooklyn waterfront. Before his Achilles exploded, Durant was a consensus top-4 NBA player.
You could make an argument for any of the four — Durant, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard. But Durant would win a lot of those debates, lugging his MVP trophy, two championship rings, four scoring titles and 10 All-Star Game appearances alongside him. It is why his free-agent pursuit was such a carnival — even with the injury — and why the Nets’ successful recruitment was such a coup.
Even with the injury.
And now, we will soon and slowly discover what not even Durant himself can yet know. Who is he as a player right now, at age 32? How close to 100 percent can he be? Can 95 percent still electrify arenas as he once did? Can 90? Eighty-five?
“It was definitely new,” Durant said of his time off between June 11, 2019, and now. “I’d never experienced that kind of injury before, learning how to walk again, needing assistance in everything you’d do for the first three to four months.”
“I’d been through surgery before, but the longest recover was three months. Here, that was just the first phase, and you’re getting around on a scooter. I had to learn how to walk, learn how to run, learn how to jump. I had to build my body back up again.”
Source : Mike Vaccaro Link