Reversing the Achilles Narrative

Modern medicine has facilitated world-class recovery for NBA players, yet the infamous achilles injury is still reputed as the grim reaper of many great careers.

Raptors’ fans can recall the unfortunate circumstances of Kevin Durant, who tore his achilles amid an NBA Finals Game 5 scorcher in Toronto. With players like him and John Wall finally set for return, I believe this year will drastically flip the existing script on achilles tears. Notions surrounding the injury have been tainted by a history of players sustaining it during their career twilights, such as All-NBA talents Kobe Bryant (34-years-old), Isiah Thomas (35-years-old), and Patrick Ewing (36-years-old).

These particular cases, suffered as far back as thirty-years ago, have created a lasting stigma around the achilles tear. Don’t get me wrong; this injury is still among the most devastating set-backs a player can suffer… Yet given the rapid advancement of medical science and treatment, I don’t subscribe to the belief that it plummets the dominance of a generational talent like KD, or even John Wall for that matter.

Although KD is being greeted with a lot more expectation, rumblings from teammates and coaches have only been positive, claiming the Slim Reaper is back at 100%. John Wall is the more interesting case in my opinion, as I actually expect him to boost and diversify his contributions upon returning to the line-up. Houston may not be the promising contender it once was, but it presents the first new environment for Wall during his rather frustrating All-Star career. James Harden would certainly be a counterpart upgrade from Bradley Beal (no slander intended), and the change of scenery could be additionally healthy for him.

Dominique Wilkins also tore his achilles during the 1991-92 season, making the most miraculous recovery in the history of basketball to date. Even during his era, the injury kept Wilkins out for less than one-year and he picked-up essentially where he left off; averaging an insane 29.9, 26.0, 24.4, 29.1, 17.8, and 18.2 PPG in the seasons following. Although he was injured at 31-years-old, that is still younger than the earlier names mentioned, and aligns closer with the current age of KD and Wall.

As previously stated, conceptualizing the achilles tear has been dramatized by a series of players already due for career plateaus. Both Wesley Matthews and former Raptor Rudy Gay have also bounced back decently well from this injury during the modern era, but neither of them are on the talent level of Kevin Durant or John Wall.

I suspect these two to come-back and immediately compete at an elite pace. If Harden is moved for a load of prospects and picks, then I could see John Wall having a similar All-Star redemption season to Chris Paul with OKC last year. Not to mention, Wall is suiting up with former Wildcat teammate DeMarcus Cousins, who is another player fallen victim to the achilles tear. Cousin’s recovery has been admittedly spotty, but he came back and proved capable of contributing as recent as the 2019 NBA Finals. As for KD, he’s a lock to became an Eastern Conference All-Star, and will be the primary driver in re-writing the script on achilles injuries for generations to come.

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James Frey December 15, 2020 3:24 p.m.

KD is so overrated

Ismaeel Mohammedally December 15, 2020 5:55 p.m.

Looking forward to seeing how KD performs this year! Also congrats on the new website, just came across it. Small piece of advice: changing your url for each post so that it isn't something like "" and instead "" will help it rank better in search engines. Best of luck growing the site!

Ricoball December 30, 2020 4:06 p.m.

Achilles injuries are deadly. Very few if any players come back to pre-injury form. KD is bucking the trend so far but for how long before "twang".

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