(Reuters) – Kevin Durant underwent surgery on Wednesday for a ruptured Achilles tendon, the Golden State Warriors player announced, as head coach Steve Kerr defended the decision to play the four-times NBA leading scorer in game five of the NBA Finals.
Durant said the surgery, less than 48 hours after he sustained the injury on Monday against the Toronto Raptors, had been successful.
“My road back starts now,” he wrote on Instagram in a post accompanied by a picture of him in a hospital bed.
“Like I said Monday, I’m hurting deeply, but I’m OK. Basketball is my biggest love and I wanted to be out there that night because that’s what I do. I wanted to help my teammates on our quest for the three peat.”
Durant was referring to his long-awaited return for the NBA Finals, which lasted barely one quarter, before he suffered the injury.
The two-times NBA Finals most valuable player (MVP) had missed the first four games of the series with a calf injury, and the Warriors had been excited to have him back for a game they had to win to stay alive.
Despite losing Durant early, the Warriors won 106-105 in Toronto to extend the best-of-seven series, which the Raptors lead 3-2 ahead of game six in Oakland, California on Thursday.
Kerr defended the decision to play Durant, saying it had been a collaborative one that included the player and his outside doctor.
“Would we go back and do it over again? Damn right, but that’s easy to say after the results,” Kerr told reporters on Wednesday.
“Our feeling was the worst thing that could happen would be a re-injury of the calf.
“Once Kevin was cleared to play he was comfortable with that, we were comfortable with that, so the Achilles came as a complete shock.”
Durant, 30, will miss at least the start of next season, because complete recovery from his type of injury can take up to a year.
Where Durant will play when he returns is another question.
He becomes a free agent at the end of the season, and before Monday’s injury there had been feverish speculation about whether he would stay with the Warriors.
The injury could prompt other teams to re-evaluate plans to make a play toward acquiring him.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina,; Editing by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond)