Golden State Warriors fans received their first glimmer of real hope in the ongoing saga of Kevin Durant's calf injury. That light at the end of the tunnel appears to have grown into something more, as Durant, who was not expected to travel with the team to Toronto, did indeed fly with his teammates Tuesday on the Warriors' charter.
The plane departed for Canada bound for the home of the Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, and, of course, the 2019 Eastern Conference Champion Raptors.
According to a report over at ESPN, Durant has "officially been ruled out" for the opening game of the Finals on Thursday night. His strained right calf, which he sustained in the Western Conference Semifinals, has kept the All-Pro off the court and away from basketball activities for about 20 days.
Coach Kerr told reporters that Durant "has been shooting on his own but has yet to do any on-court work with his teammates as he continues the rehab process."
Progressing to on-court work is a good sign, for sure. The Warriors organization — let alone KD's agent — would not let him touch the court if his calf were not healed enough to withstand normal wear-and-tear from shooting. Dubs fans should not get ahead of themselves; Durant still has a ways to go, and the Finals are just a day away. KD, the team, and the training staff will have to work together to thread that tiny needle between rushing the injured star back to the court too soon and waiting so long and being so cautious that he loses the opportunity to have a meaningful impact on this championship series.
What may be lost in all of the speculation and interest into the severity of Durant's injury, his timetable for return, and his potential effectiveness post-rehab is the fact that KD is even attempting to return to the court this season. If he were selfish, he could choose to sit out for the rest of the postseason, claiming his injury is worse than it really is and allowing himself to avoid the off-chance that he could lose some stock in this summer's free agency frenzy, should he suffer another serious injury.
KD may be thin-skinned on social media, but he has a "ride or die" mindset when it comes to his Warrior brotherhood. Rest-assured Bay Area fans, Kevin Durant wants to be out there with his fellow soldiers. When he is physically able, and is cleared by team physicians, KD will be draining pull-up threes and midrange jumpers in no time.
Photo: Game-Face Photos