Title: Kawhi Leonard’s comments on Kevin Durant shed important light on mental health aspect of recovery
Date: June 12, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and the importance of recognizing the mental health side of injury.
There are few players who understand the risks Kevin Durant was weighing quite like Kawhi Leonard.
After missing nine games with a serious calf injury, Durant returned for the Golden State Warriors on Monday. His team was down 3-1 in the NBA Finals and with only one full practice under his belt, amid reports that earlier workouts to escalate his progress had not gone as well as hoped, Durant took the floor. Fewer than 12 minutes of playing time later, Durant’s return was cut short. The belief is that Durant tore his right Achilles tendon.
A little over two years ago, Leonard had his own postseason cut short against these same Warriors. In the season that followed, Leonard missed significant time with quadriceps tendinopathy, a nebulous injury that was difficult to pin down and led to significant friction and an erosion of trust between Leonard’s camp and the San Antonio Spurs. It ultimately led to the Spurs dealing him to the Raptors, with whom Leonard is one win away from a championship. His path over the course of this season has been heavy on load management days and extreme caution as the Raptors medical staff looked not only to have Leonard in peak shape for this time of year but also to foster a positive relationship with him ahead of free agency.