There has never been a time where I have regretted being a part of the sports world, whether it was as a journalist or just as a fan. There are too many beautiful things about sports between the walk-off homers, the Game 7s, the comebacks and all the personal stories for any athlete willing to put in the work to get where they are.
However, the sports world is certainly not perfect and it never has been. And it’s not just the losses or the four-bounce buzzer beaters (I’m still bitter) but it is about something much more important.
During Monday night’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the Toronto Raptors had a chance to close out their franchise’s first championship in front of their home crowd. The Golden State Warriors, who have won three of the last four titles, were on the brink of elimination so they brought back the two-time defending NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant.
There has been a lot of negativity around Durant since he moved to the Warriors and he was a key reason why it was so easy for most people — not me because again, still bitter — to root for the Raptors. And from a neutral perspective, the franchise certainly appeared to be likable with seemingly great fans and a superstar player who is not arrogant and might even be a robot.
The outlook on the franchise quickly changed early in the second quarter of Monday’s game. Everyone knew Durant was rushing to return from a right calf injury to help his team win and everything was going smoothly through 12 minutes of play.
However, with Durant at the 3-point line, he started to drive when it was clear something popped in his right leg causing him to turn the ball over and go to the ground. And that’s when the negative side of sports showed up.
It was not just about an injury to one of the sport’s best players of all time in his prime. It was the reaction from those same seemingly great fans in Toronto.
Everyone knew the injury he was struggling with and when he went down, the cheers filled the arena. Fans from the front row on the baseline to the back of the lower section could be seen waving goodbye to Durant, knowing his night was done.
When Durant attempted to stand up, he was clearly limping and had to be helped down the tunnel by trainers and teammates. The cheers grew even louder.
Some credit can be given to the Raptors players who were clearly not happy with the cheers, gesturing at their fans to be quiet. That didn’t really seem to last long though because point guard Kyle Lowry began his press conference with an excuse for the fans, saying they didn’t know the extent of the injury.
This really should not have to be said but there is no injury where it is OK for fans to cheer as a player leaves the court or the field. That’s it. Just don’t do it.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have heard fans doing this. I’ve even heard it within Elmore County during the 10 months I have been here.
Injuries are the worst part about sports and the effect they have on athlete’s careers and personal lives cannot be overstated. Those people are more than just athletes between the sidelines for your entertainment for three hours.
When you’re in the stands, you never know the extent of an injury or what those effects will be so maybe just sit back, be quiet and hope the player can be OK as soon as possible. The situation does not matter.
So, for Kevin Durant, I wish nothing but a speedy recovery — not just as a basketball fan who wants to see him play again but for the guy who knowingly risked a chunk of his career to help his teammates when they needed it.
And as for the basketball, I’m not here for the upset. Go Warriors.