NEW YORK — A-year-and-a-half after struggling a torn Achilles, signing with a brand new staff after which enduring a protracted rehabilitation, Kevin Durant is lastly capable of go well with up for the Brooklyn Nets. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, his first “coaching camp exercise” on Tuesday did not seem like every other one he had been part of in his 14-year profession — in spite of everything, it was solo work — however that did not matter.
“I really feel good enjoying,” Durant mentioned. “I’m simply taking it a day at a time.”
The journey from tearing his Achilles in June 2019 to being ready to play within the 72-game 2020-21 season was a protracted one. On Tuesday, Durant mentioned that whereas he has had aches, bruises, fractures and strains throughout his time within the NBA, he had by no means endured a rehabilitation course of like this one.
“I’ve been by way of surgical procedures and accidents earlier than,” he mentioned in a digital interview Tuesday, “however the longest restoration was three months. The primary section of the Achilles [recovery] was three months. You possibly can’t stroll round, it’s a must to use a scooter.”
He mentioned there have been few, if any, actions he might get by way of with out help early on, and regardless that Achilles accidents have turn into extra widespread, the trials of relearning the right way to stroll, run, bounce and do fundamental reducing workout routines on a basketball courtroom should not be “underestimated.”
Durant and Kyrie Irving — who had season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgical procedure in March — didn’t be part of their Nets teammates within the NBA bubble in July, as an alternative specializing in their respective rehabs. Durant mentioned that he and Irving labored out collectively at occasions, principally in Los Angeles. There have been stretches the place the duo would do on-court work collectively 4 or 5 days per week, he mentioned.
Durant additionally spent a part of his offseason figuring out with Washington Wizards guard John Wall, who he mentioned seems to be “wonderful.” Wall initially injured his left heel throughout the 2018-19 season and underwent surgical procedure, then tore his Achilles throughout his restoration, an harm that saved him out for everything of 2019-20.
Now that he’s again on the courtroom in Brooklyn — regardless that the league will not be permitting group exercises at staff amenities — Durant mentioned he is not holding again.
“I’ve labored as laborious as I might,” Durant mentioned. “I have been within the league 14 years; even when I did not have an Achilles, I would not be at one hundred pc. It is simply put on and tear over time. [But] I really feel stable.”
He added that he cannot play timid within the hopes of defending the leg he injured over a 12 months in the past.
“I simply attempt to play and never fear about it,” he mentioned. “Generally you are inclined to focus an excessive amount of on not getting injured and also you most likely go on the market and get injured. So, I attempt to go as laborious as I can and stay with the outcomes.”
First-year coach Steve Nash mentioned that he does not have express load administration plans but for Irving and Durant, however admitted it’s unlikely they play in all 72 video games.
“It has been such a layoff for each of them and particularly Kevin, with coming off one of many hardest accidents to take care of as a basketball participant,” Nash mentioned. “We’ve got to be very cautious with him and his adaptation course of again into the sport. Kevin has finished every part you can ever have requested to place himself on this place. Maybe we’ve to guard him from himself in a method as a result of he brings a lot pleasure and keenness to the game.”
Achilles tears are notoriously tough for gamers to return from. Durant is attempting to handle expectations, stopping wanting promising that he would be the MVP-caliber expertise he was earlier than the harm.
“Who is aware of,” he mentioned, of how shut he might be to that pre-injury model of himself. “I simply acquired to see how I really feel in an actual NBA sport.”
In simply 12 days, he’ll get to really feel it out. On Dec. 13, the preseason begins for Durant and the Nets.