Off On the Wrong Foot: How Durant’s Foot Injury Could Affect His Legacy

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Kevin Durant’s career is at stake. COURT. OF GEORGE BRIDGES VIA TNS)

By ARTUR BALANOVSKIY
Staff Writer
Published: March 15, 2015

Some of the most dangerous ailments that can affect an athlete, especially one in the NBA, are foot injuries. An injury to a player’s foot is an injury to their base, their balance and their ability to withstand the impact of the constant running and jumping. Careers of players like Bill Walton and Rasheed Wallace were, in effect, ended due to foot injuries. Other players like Grant Hill and current Brooklyn Nets Center Brook Lopez have been plagued by injuries for years, missing large chunks of seasons and preventing them from reaching the potential. And this is now the concern surrounding Kevin Durant after being diagnosed with a Jones fracture, a form of bone breakage in his foot.

Kevin Durant has been to the NBA Finals, won the Rookie of the Year Award, the MVP Award, an Olympic Gold Medal and four scoring championships. He is regularly referred to as the second best basketball player in the world, behind only LeBron James. But after shutting it down for the rest of the season, many fans and analysts are left worried about his career. At 26 years old, Durant has yet to reach his peak. But the Jones fracture may have left his best years behind him. The lack of blood flow to the fractured area, which is the outermost bone in the foot, makes it a difficult injury to fully recover from. If it does not heal properly, which is not an uncommon occurrence, Durant will be at constant risk of re-injuring his foot, losing his versatility and leaping ability and will likely see a sharp decline in his statistics. That said, Durant may very well fully recover and return to being the immensely talented forward he was, but he needs to allow his foot to heal properly.

As for the Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC), they must let Durant take as long as he needs to heal. With Serge Ibaka out as well, the Thunder are destined for a first round exit against Golden State, if they even make the playoffs altogether. Although Russell Westbrook is spitting out triple doubles left and right, this season is a lost one for OKC. That said, a healthy Durant next season, with all the new players the Thunder have acquired, makes for a team with a legitimate chance at the championship. Without Durant, they are left with a huge hole in his position. Although they had a strong run with him sidelined earlier in the season, OKC could not sustain the momentum. Their team depends on their superstar, and if his future is in question, so are any championship hopes they have. While Durant is still in Oklahoma City, before he can test the free agency, they need to pray Durant comes back 100 percent so they can make a real run for the Finals.

If there is concern for Durant’s future, there is concern for the NBA as a whole. No, the NBA would not shut down if Durant retired today. But they would lose one of their biggest stars. There are only so many stars most casual fans could name, especially the young stars of the future. Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant. James has reached his prime, and although he is still probably the best player in the world, he is only likely to decline from here. Durant is on track to take that top spot- make multiple MVP runs lead his team through the NBA Playoffs and win championships. Durant’s legacy is as potentially important and great as any other player in the league, but that legacy may reach a stunning halt if he cannot fully recover from this fracture.

If Durant retired today, would he be a Hall of Famer? He just might be, as his accomplishments have been astounding. But if he continues to play and improve, he could be remembered among the greats of the NBA like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to name a few. That is the legacy Durant’s Jones fracture threatens; that is the legacy the NBA is fearful of losing.