We often talk about sports in the good moments, of how they can bring everyone together, and make everyone feel happy and wonderful. We never talk about what happens when sports leave us feeling pretty down.
That’s mostly because it never happens — in every game, there’s one team or person that won, and should be happy. But after Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday, June 10, it seems as if everyone who tuned in — and a lot of people tuned in — walked away feeling a little down.
Obviously, Raptors fans were devastated. Whether you’re a basketball nut, someone whose cheered for the Raptors in the playoffs for years, or someone just tuning in for this exciting moment, Toronto’s 106-105 loss was devastating. All losses sting, and the series isn’t over. In fact, the Raptors will likely still win the series, but the fact is the team was up six points with three minutes to play, poised to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
I don’t know about you, but I thought it was over. I was already celebrating and taking it in, relishing this moment I’ve waited for about 25 years as a sports fan. I know too well not to let your guard down, because my favourite teams, including the Raptors, repeatedly find the cruelest of ways to let me down.
But this time, I thought things were different.
In fact, that game is instantly one of the best NBA Finals games in the past 10 years, right up there with Game 7 between the Warriors and Cavaliers in 2016, and Game 6 of the 2013 Finals between the Heat and Spurs. That’s because in all those games, the unthinkable happened, as it did Monday night.
On the other side, for neutral NBA fans and especially Warriors fans, the game was sad because we saw Kevin Durant leave the court with an injury. He came back from a calf strain injury to try and be the hero and will his team to the title, and instead left before the first half with what is rumoured to be a torn Achilles tendon.
At this point, it’s just speculation, but there’s a very real chance that Durant could miss all of next season, and the future of his career and his impending free agency this July could be in jeopardy.
Though the Warriors still found a way to bounce back and win by a point, extending the series and taking control of the momentum, basketball fans were saddened by the sight of someone willing himself to compete when all signs said he shouldn’t.
Still, the games will roll on. The sadness will fade and Game 5 will be remembered as a classic sports moment of unparallelled excitement and drama. Game 6 is Thursday, June 13. Toronto fans could be celebrating regardless, and Durant will still likely sign a lucrative, four-year contract with a team regardless if he can play next year or not.
But until then, that was a tough game, memorable or not.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.