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An NBA Finals game for the ages (burn all recordings of it, please)

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2019 NBA Finals - Game Five Photo by Pool - Kyle Terada/Getty Images

How does one describe Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals for posterity? In the history books, it will primarily be remembered as the game in which Kevin Durant came back from a long injury layoff, perhaps under some pressure from various directions, and apparently tore his Achilles in the second quarter, a heartbreaking end to his season.

In terms of the short-term ramifications, the Warriors won anyways after the Raptors stormed back to take a late lead only to completely collapse in the closing minutes. The Durant injury put a pall on the whole game -- especially as some Raptors fans seemed to immediately cheer the injury before Raptors players and the PA announcer shut them up -- and it really never felt like a gym where the home team was on the precipice of winning its first ever NBA title. It didn’t feel right. It wouldn’t have felt right.

Klay Thompson had a heroic performance, Stephen Curry was great, and the Warriors are just about out of cards to play. Two more chances for the Raptors to end it. Two more wins for the Warriors’ most amazing achievement yet. The Warriors never need extra motivation. But they have now as they try to ensure Durant’s sacrifice wasn’t made in vain.

Under Pressure

Bob Myers, when announcing that the Durant injury was to the Achilles in an emotional statement at the end of the game, both said there’s no one to blame in this situation but that he would accept it as the leader of basketball operations.

Someone in the organization was prompting questions about why Durant wasn’t playing. Myers is covering for that person or those people.

One positive consequence from this horrific episode could be that we stop questioning players’ toughness when they are injured, period. Don’t make it conditional. Don’t make it relative. Don’t give a bullhorn and cover to people in the organization trying to pressure the player to get on the court. The benefit to the public of a behind-the-scenes look isn’t equal to the cost. If a player says they are injured, if a player is not comfortable playing, don’t talk s--t and don’t question their motives, their commitment, or their toughness. Just don’t.

Let’s assume that the humans dedicating their lives to becoming the best pro athletes they can be actually do want to play their sports in the most critical moments. That seems like a safe bet most of the time.

You know what? DeMarcus Cousins, per usual, said it more succinctly than I did.



Paul Flannery’s Monday Shootaround on the power of Kawhi Leonard, who almost won the title for the Raptors in a 2-minute stretch before everything went to hell.

Raptors HQ notes how weird Game 5 was all the way around.

Can any other team give Kawhi 22 games off in the regular season and still get home court in the Finals?

Tony Parker retires from basketball after 18 seasons in the NBA. Parker was truly one of the most recognizable basketball stars in the world for like a 2-year stretch when the Spurs were winning championships every other year and his then-wife Eva Longoria had a hit T.V. show. His wedding in Paris made international news! BoBo Diaw looked dapper!

Katie Baker has graced basketball with her voice again, this time about the most important franchise of the NBA offseason: the New York Knicks.

Dan Devine on the end of Game 5.

The Spurs lost Ime Udoka to the Sixers last week and now Ettore Messina has agreed to coach Olimpia Milano, a job Emmet Ryan calls the Harrenhal of Europle. Seems fun! Meanwhile, Becky Hammon might end up as Gregg Popovich’s associate head coach this season.

How Board Man Gets Rebounds. Also from Chris Herring: yes, the Raptors’ shots have been getting friendlier bounces at home than other teams, and no, that’s not an indication of anything amiss.

This isn’t goodbye to The Starters, just see you later.

Shams Charania reports in The Athletic that Anthony Davis is focused on the Knicks and Lakers for his long-term future. In fairness to him, he’s built a certain comfort with missing the playoffs most seasons, so that’s a pretty good fit either way. Meanwhile, David Griffin is forming the foundation of what he wants any Davis deal to look like. It kind of looks like the Lakers are in the driver’s seat.

Marc Gasol has turned Memphis into a stateside Jurassic Park. P.S. GET WELL, BONGO LADY.

Be excellent to each other.