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How COVID-19 slowed Kevin Durant’s rehab and how love for the game drives him now

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Phoenix Suns v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Kevin Durant spoke with WNBA players Breanna Stewart and Kelsey Plum on the “Stewie’s World” podcast Tuesday about a lot of things but mostly where he is on his return to play after COVID-19 short-circuited his rehab.

“I’ve been playing 3-on-3’s for like three months,” he told the two who like him have both suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. “Four times a week. Next phase is to playing more 5-on-5. I was doing it before the pandemic but now it’s hard to get 10 guys on the court during COVID so I think that the next step is to get some good runs in the next couple of months, couple of weeks.”

And, he noted about next season, “whenever they come, you’ve got to be ready.”

Indeed, right up until the season suspension, Durant’s rehab was accelerating with reports of some 5-on-5 workouts. There was video of Durant crossing up Nic Claxton on the way to a right-handed jam. The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer reported on the group of Nets players tasked with playing with and against Durant during his rehab sessions. They dubbed themselves the “Extra Work Crew.”

KD spoke as well about how much he appreciates things now, even in solitary settings.

“I just appreciate being in the gym, the workouts, the 1-on-1 sessions because of the injury. Now, I just appreciate just being in there with the other guys. I miss, you know, the whole routine.

“So doing it now every single day, I have a newfound, evolved level of joy for it. I feel like I’m growing every day I feel I’m having a kid-like joy every time I step on that court. That’s all I really wanted to have, to continue to have,” he told The Corp. “I didn’t want to lose the love for the game because of an injury. It this point now, I just enjoy waking up and getting to the gym every day.”

He spoke as well about the difficulty of watching games from the bench.

“It was tough. You know I got injured before in 2015. I was out for the half the season,” he recalled. “I would always come to the game in a suit. So I kind of got used that and I missed 20 games here and there throughout the season and I got used to being on the sideline, but knowing I wasn’t going to come back the full season I had to get my mind prepared for that. Because looking at a game through a different lens, I was looking from the outside.

“It was tough to sit there and watch it. I wanted to get out there and affect the game. It’s hard to do that from the bench.”

Durant spoke as well about how the early days of his recovery back in June and July 2019 were the worst times that he couldn’t walk and that he had to plan out things that were part of his normal routine, like showering and brushing his teeth.