Dirk Nowitzki knows from personal experience how devastating injuries can be, and commends Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson for trying to play through theirs when the stakes were highest.
Speaking recently on ESPN Dallas 103.3, the Mavericks great shared his thoughts on the Raptors winning their first NBA title after defeating the Warriors in Game 6 on Thursday and saluted the injured stars for their last-ditch effort at a three-peat.
“Well deserved, that fan base deserves it. It’s a fun place to play up there,” Nowitzki said, via the Dallas Morning News. “But sad, of course, for (Kevin) Durant and Klay (Thompson). Two great players, two great guys and to have them go down with major, major injuries obviously is tough for me as an ex-athlete to watch, but they’ll be back obviously. They’re great players, both Hall of Famers and they’ll be back.”
Added Nowitzki: “It was tough to watch, but Toronto deserves it. They had a great year and they had some great team play and Kawhi (Leonard) was fantastic the entire playoff run. They definitely deserved it, but I do feel bad for the Warriors.”
While Thompson got hurt late in Thursday’s game, Durant had been dealing with a calf injury since the second round of the playoffs and returned for Game 5 of the NBA Finals only to leave in the second quarter with an Achilles injury. He had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles earlier this week, and it’s likely he’ll miss all of next season.
When asked if he believes the Warriors made a mistake with Durant by rushing him back, Nowitzki admitted it’s a tough scenario that varies from player to player.
“Well my situation was a little different,” Nowitzki said. “I didn’t sit out one game, I wasn’t out for an entire month. Obviously in Durant’s case, they obviously thought he had healed up fine. I’m sure they had all the doctors and (physiotherapists) weigh in and he wanted to play and they cleared him, but he was already sitting out a month.
“Durant’s situation was a lot different. I’m sure everybody weighed in and he wanted to play and the doctors cleared him. Things like this unfortunately are a part of sports.”
The Warriors confirmed Thompson suffered a torn ACL but still expressed their desire to re-sign him.
On the other hand, it has been speculated that Durant could leave Golden State during free agency. However, that could change after his Achilles injury left his long-term future in question.