Kevin Durant’s shock injury exit stuns one and all

Kevin Durant’s shock injury exit stuns one and all
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant. (USA TODAY)
Updated 12 June 2019

Kevin Durant’s shock injury exit stuns one and all

Kevin Durant’s shock injury exit stuns one and all
  • Durant suffered a right Achilles tendon injury

TORONTO: When Golden State star Kevin Durant went down 12 minutes into his long-awaited comeback game Monday in the NBA Finals, players on both sides were stunned.

Durant, the 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, suffered a right Achilles tendon injury in the Warriors’ 106-105 victory over Toronto, trimming the Raptors’ lead to 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

“It was a real shock when he went down,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “There was just a couple minutes where it all seemed so eerie and strange and it took maybe a little bit for both teams to collect themselves.”

Durant, who missed the past month with a right calf injury, planted his foot, pulled up and sat down on the floor. He was helped to the locker room and left the arena on crutches.

“I just tried to refocus, but that was very deflating,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “It obviously inspires you to play harder knowing your best player can’t be out there.

“You think of him every time you dive for a loose ball or go for a rebound, because I know him and I know how bad he wants to be out there. That’s why he was out there. It sucks.

“He’s a warrior. He sacrificed his health for us. For him to put his health on the line, to come back and compete at the highest level, we miss him. That’s our brother. It’s hard to even celebrate this win.”

Raptors coach Nick Nurse was just as stunned after Durant opened 3-of-3 from 3-point range and finished with 11 points.

“When anybody goes down you’re saddened by it, but when one of the great players like that goes down, it’s almost shocking,” Nurse said. “Some of the guys on our bench were really shook up.

“It’s always a little eerie feeling for everybody when something like that happens on a big stage like this.”

As Toronto guard Kyle Lowry put it: “In this league we’re all brothers. And it’s a small brotherhood. You never want to see a competitor like him go down.”

Warriors general manager Bob Myers said multiple doctors approved Durant to play.

“I don’t believe there’s anybody to blame but I understand this world and if you have to, you can blame me,” Myers said.

“People that questioned whether he wanted to get back to this team were wrong. He’s a good teammate. He’s a good person. It’s not fair.”

Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala helped Durant back to the locker room, saying people don’t appreciate the bond among the players.

“It’s more than basketball. But no one wants to understand that part. They only care about the game,” Iguodala said.

“We always talk about how this team is with one another, but people still don’t really grasp what we’re talking about. When we say this is like a real brotherhood, people have no clue what goes into that and how we feel about each other.”

Durant can count on his teammates to be there for him, Warriors guard Stephen Curry said.

“He gave us what he had, he went out there and sacrificed his body,” Curry said. “I just feel so bad for him. Nobody should have to go through something like that. He’s going to go through some challenges through this process, however long it takes, but we’re going to be there for him.”

Toronto’s Fred VanVleet respected Durant’s determination to try and play in a must-win game for Golden State.

“I know we’re opponents and competing as hard as we possibly can, but you never want to see anyone get injured,” VanVleet said. “He put his body on the line for those guys and that franchise. We feel for him. It’s very unfortunate. It sucks.”

No one knows that like Toronto star Kawhi Leonard, who missed most of last season with an injury.

“It’s devastating,” Leonard said. “You see him try to come out and push himself. I feel bad for him. I’m pretty sure he’s going to attack each day and get better and come back strong.”


Robert Saleh becomes first Muslim head coach in NFL history

Lebanese-American Robert Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans before his head coach role at the New York Jets. (AFP/File Photo)
Lebanese-American Robert Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans before his head coach role at the New York Jets. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 15 January 2021

Robert Saleh becomes first Muslim head coach in NFL history

Lebanese-American Robert Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans before his head coach role at the New York Jets. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Saleh, who has been defensive coordinator at the San Francisco 49ers since 2017, will replace Adam Gase
  • Will be the third Arab-American head coach in the NFL

LONDON: The New York Jets said Friday they were appointing Robert Saleh as their head coach, making him the first Muslim to lead a team in the National Football League (NFL).

Saleh, who has been defensive coordinator at the San Francisco 49ers since 2017, will replace Adam Gase, who was fired at the end of a disappointing 2020 regular season.

“Saleh will become the Jets’ 20th head coach in franchise history and their 18th coach appointed to take Green and White reins before the start of a new season,” the Jets posted on their website.

He beat other candidates for the job, including the Tennessee Titans’ assistant coach Arthur Smith, and was wanted by at least six other franchises including Super Bowl LII champions the Philadelphia Eagles, the Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Chargers, according to ESPN.

Before his stint in San Francisco, Lebanese-American Saleh served as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans.

He will be the third Arab-American head coach in the NFL after Abe Gibron, who is also Lebanese-American, and Rich Kotite, but he will be the first Muslim, according to a statement from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

His no-nonsense approach to defensive play made him a popular figure with his players and 49er fans.

“He makes sure there’s no grey area in terms of coaching and teaching,” San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner said last month. “There’s a lot of coaches out there who just coach. But he’s a great teacher.”

Another of his former players, Richard Sherman, congratulated him on the appointment. He tweeted: “The @nyjets got a great one! Congrats to them!”

His appointment was also welcomed by the Muslim civil rights body, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

He will have a tough task at the Jets, turning around the fortunes of a team that has failed to make the playoffs since the 2010 season, currently the NFL’s longest active postseason drought.

With quarterback Sam Darnold failing to hit the heights he promised after being picked No. 3 in the 2018 draft, Saleh’s first job will be to find a solid option in that position if he is to bring success to East Rutherford for the first time since 1968.