NBA superstar Kevin Durant admitted to nerves as he returned to action for the first time in 18 months.
In his first preseason appearance for the Brooklyn Nets, Durant scored 15 points in 24 minutes on Sunday night. He hadn’t played since he ruptured his right Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals as a member of the Golden State Warriors on June 10, 2019.
“It felt great, you know, to be back in a routine and get back on the floor and feel like a player again,” Durant said after Brooklyn’s 119-114 home win over the Washington Wizards. “I didn’t think I played great. I felt I had some solid moments.”
Durant, 32, was 5-of-12 shooting and collected three rebounds and three assists.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the 10-time All-Star who entered the NBA in 2007 was hit with anxiety prior to the otherwise meaningless contest.
“I was anxious, nervous,” Durant said. “I visualized this moment for so long — nine, 10 months of thinking about how I’ll be in the next stage of my career. I felt like I was chomping at the bit. Especially when COVID hit, I was just so frustrated. I didn’t see when the season would start in the future. So I was just going through it. To go through this felt solid and I have to keep building on it.”
New Nets coach Steve Nash said he was impressed with how far Durant has come.
“It’s kind of remarkable he’s at the level he’s at,” Nash said of Durant. “It’s amazing. This is an injury that very few people have kind of conquered, so to speak. So for him to be able to be in this position, he’s done everything we could’ve asked.”
Durant is a two-time NBA champion and won his lone MVP award in 2013-14 as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has averaged 27 points and 7.1 rebounds over 12 seasons (849 games) with the Seattle SuperSonics, Thunder and Warriors.
He has led the NBA in scoring four times, most recently in 2013-14 with the Thunder, when he poured in a career-best 32 points per game.
He left the Warriors in the summer of 2019, receiving a four-year, $US164 million free agent contract from the Nets in a sign-and-trade deal.