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Kevin Durant: Kobe Bryant Told Me 'Don't Be a F--king Crybaby' About Achilles Injury

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 6, 2023

Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant (7) dunks during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, in Chicago. Chicago won 121-112. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant received an honest, encouraging and blunt message from Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant after KD suffered a ruptured right Achilles as a member of the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals.

"Don't be a f--king crybaby," the message said, per Durant to The Athletic's Alex Schiffer. "It's going to be all right. You're going to come back and be who you are."

Durant had missed nine straight games with a strained right calf before making his NBA Finals debut in Game 5 of the Dubs' series with the Toronto Raptors. He caught fire with 11 first-quarter points but suffered the injury while trying to drive in the second quarter.

Durant agreed to a sign-and-trade to join the Nets during the offseason but missed the entire 2019-20 campaign. He's been dominant ever since his return, however, averaging 29.1 points on 53.7 percent shooting during his Nets tenure.

Bryant suffered a torn Achilles tendon on April 12, 2013, against the Warriors but memorably sank two free throws moments after the injury occurred before leaving the game.

He returned to the court eight months later and averaged 18.9 points over the last 107 games of his career, including 60 to close his 20-year NBA tenure against the Utah Jazz in 2016.

Hearing from Bryant encouraged Durant, who expressed that sentiment to Schiffer.

"When my mind was racing everywhere, it was good to hear from him," Durant said. "Especially him going through it later in his career."

Per Schiffer, Bryant's comments to Durant were more than a one- or two-line message.

"Bryant stayed on Durant days afterward and discussed people to work with and certain physical therapies," Schiffer noted. KD then "went on his own from there" after heeding Bryant's advice.

Durant is coming off a 44-point performance on 15-of-22 shooting against the Chicago Bulls. Brooklyn lost 121-112 but had just gone on a 12-game winning streak to catapult itself up the Eastern Conference standings, where the team is now tied for second with the Milwaukee Bucks.