Opinion: Kevin Durant’s devastating Achilles injury brings humanity of game to forefront

TORONTO — They cheered after Kevin Durant went down. Yes, they did.

Toronto Raptors fans cheered as he clutched his right leg during the second quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals with what turned out to be an Achilles tendon injury.

Those cheers were inexcusable. Baffling. But what followed was far more powerful.

First, there was Danny Green, Kyle Lowry and other Raptors players signalling for the crowd to stop cheering.

Then, as the Durant was helped off the court and toward the Warriors’ locker room, the crowd saluted him with chants of “KD! KD!” 

The potentially devastating injury brought out the humanity of the game.

Raptors give Durant a “KD” chant to salute his effort to play ? pic.twitter.com/STIv8QNfIS

It was a thrilling game, with the Warriors pulling out a 106-105 victory and keeping alive the NBA Finals that Toronto leads 3-2 heading into Game 6 Thursday in Oakland. But some of the best highlights were more subtle than the dunks and the 3-pointers and the acrobatic plays that will fill up the highlight reels. 

“The Raptors players were telling the crowd to be quiet, out of respect, which I appreciated,’’ Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

Drake comforts Kevin Durant after his injury. (Photo: Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports)

And there was Steph Curry, who despite being in the game at the time of the injury, bolted after Durant as Durant was helped up the tunnel toward the Warriors’ locker room. He came back only after consoling his fallen teammate.

“Sometimes the spirit tells you what to do,’’ Curry told reporters after the game. “You don't really make decisions, you just act on it. So I can't tell you what went through my head, it just felt right.’’’

Drake, who has heckled the Warriors mercilessly during three games at Scotiabank Arena, looked to be in agony as Durant was helped off the court. No, Drake appeared to be yelling over and over. No, no, no!

Drake consoled Kevin Durant as he walked off in the second quarter. pic.twitter.com/05ZpHdL49l

Before the start of the third quarter, Curry and Klay Thompson stopped to talk with Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry.

Lowry wanted to know if Durant was OK.

“In this league, we're all brothers,’’ Lowry said after the game. “At the end of the day, we're all brothers and it's a small brotherhood and you never want to see a competitor like him go down.’’

Opinion: Kevin Durant's Game 5 injury is a failure on many levels

Bob Myers, the Warriors’ general manager, held back tears when he met with the media after the game and revealed that Durant had injured his Achilles tendon.

Warriors GM Bob Myers was emotional discussing Kevin Durant's Achilles injury. pic.twitter.com/Od6otpYHWJ

Every Warrior and Raptor asked about Durant’s injury looked subdued.

It was poignant. Poignant enough to help offset the memory of the fans’ ill-timed cheers.

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