Kevin Durant Remembers Thinking His Career Was Over After Tearing Achilles in 2019 NBA Finals

Durant sat out the entire 2019-20 season due to the Achilles tear, but eventually made a full recovery.

(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

Kevin Durant thought his Hall of Fame-worthy career was over when he tore his Achilles tendon in the 2019 NBA Finals.

During a conversation with Boardroom alongside his longtime business partner Rich Kleiman, Durant opened up about the Achilles tear that had him sidelined for an entire season. According to KD, when the injury happened and he was clutching at his ankle, the two-time NBA champion thought he would never play professional basketball again. 

"It's 20,000 people in there and I heard a pop. So I'm like, 'Oh my gosh,' and my whole basketball career flashed before my eyes," Durant said. "Everything, everything I did, everything that I thought about. All my favorite moments, all my bad moments, it flashed, and that's why, if you watch, I'm just sitting there gazing into the crowd before somebody came over to help me up because I'm just like, 'This shit is over with.'"

The 35-year-old added, "Like I truly don't know what I'm about to be, and that's a nerve-racking feeling when you don't know who you are."

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Durant's Achilles tear happened in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals while he was with the Golden State Warriors. The injury occurred after KD suffered a right calf strain during Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets that same year. 

The 14-time All-Star sat out nine games to heal his calf and returned in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors, only to get injured two minutes into the second quarter. Following the Warriors' loss, Durant signed a four-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets but sat out the 2019-20 season. He made a full recovery, spending three seasons with the Nets before being shipped to the Phoenix Suns in 2023.

For his first seven years in the league, KD never missed more than 10 games, but the injuries started piling up in the 2014-15 season when he suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot. Since then, Durant's list of injuries includes three left MCL sprains (two on his left, one on his right), an incomplete rib cartilage fracture, a strained right calf, a left hamstring strain, and more. 

In the Boardroom talk with Kleiman, KD also explained how frightened he was of all the injuries and surgeries he's had throughout his career.

"All of this shit was scary," he said. "Even with the Achilles, it was like, 'Man, you may get blood clots.' I felt like it was affecting my whole body. My Achilles is such a major ligament. And that's what goes unnoticed when you talk about professional athletes and how we deal with injuries, and what it takes to really come out of that." 

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