clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Dominque Wilkins to Kevin Durant: ‘Don’t listen to your critics’

NBA: Miami Heat at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

With all the talk about when Caris LeVert, Kyrie Irving and Nicolas Claxton will return, there’s another question we should be asking what’s going on with Kevin Durant?

Back in September, Sean Marks defused a lot of speculation about KD’s first game as a Net saying the “expectation” is that the 10-time All-Star, two-time NBA champion won’t be playing this season. Now, seven months after Durant suffered his ruptured Achilles tendon — two months short of the normal recovery time, expect a new round of questions about his progress ... and how good he will be on return.

One person with expertise —and experience— in recovering from an Achilles injury is Dominique Wilkins, the Hawks great who was the first star to recover from the injury. In fact, when he came back, he was better! Mike Mazzeo, writing for Yahoo! Sports, talked with ‘Nique who had some advise for Durant. He believes KD will be back as good as new.

“Don’t listen to your critics,” said Wilkins. “Don’t listen to people telling you what you can or can’t do. Because no one knows your heart better than you do.”

As Mazzeo writes ...

Wilkins set the standard for returning from a torn Achilles tendon, averaging 29.9 points in his first season back (1992-93) at age 32. It took the Hall of Famer nine months to recover.

Durant is 31 and a lot of pundits (none with medical degrees in orthopedics or access to his medical records) think he won’t get back to being the top 10 players of All-Time. Forget that KD’s surgeon and the Nets orthopedist, Dr. Martin O’Malley, is the best in the world at what he does.

“They’re going to be quick to say, ‘Well, the guy can shoot the ball and he’s talented, but what about the explosion?’ You get people saying stuff like that. So again, it comes down to, ‘How do you prove people wrong?’ You go out there, believe in yourself and work hard to get back to that star level. And I think everything else will take care of itself.

“One thing in his favor is that he loves to play. And anybody that loves the game is going to do whatever’s necessary to get back to that star level.”

It’s not easy said Wilkins who rehabbed twice a day for the entire nine months he was out.

“It took me believing in myself. And all those articles with people saying I wouldn’t be back, I wouldn’t be the same. I put them on the mirror of my workout room. I had to look at them everyday. And so that was my fuel.”

Wilkins admits that the first time he could hit after returning, he instinctively grabbed his Achilles.

“And I’m like, ‘I’m not in any pain.’ And I said, ‘If this thing is going to go again, it’s going to be on my terms. I’m going to go all out.’ I had to get over the doubts, the fear.”

Wilkins said he’s spoken to KD since the injury.

“We’ve talked a little bit. Not much. But I’m always willing to give any type of insight or advice on that injury. It’s a time-consuming injury, but if you put in the work you can get back from it.”

Gotta have faith.