The world watched in awe as Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant made his grand entrance to the NBA Finals on Tuesday, shaking off a calf injury that had kept him relegated to the sideline for a month to net 11 points in 12 minutes.
Then disaster struck.
The two-time NBA Finals MVP went down, reaching for his leg and what would later be diagnosed as a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Irvin profiled how he felt at the time of the injury on The Rich Eisen Show on Wednesday.
“I felt a great number of emotions,” Irvin said. “We have to look at the totality of it all. I mean, what an incredible story. He sees his guys are in need … and I’ve heard all the stuff about maybe he should, maybe he shouldn’t. He said no to all that and said (playing) is the most important thing to me.”
Irvin then recalled a 1994 game the Cowboys played against the New York Giants. In that game, Emmitt Smith took a jarring hit and suffered a first-degree separation of his right shoulder late in the first half.
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The future Hall of Fame back missed just two plays and played most of the game with one arm, willing the Cowboys to victory over their NFC East rival with 229 yards on the ground.
“You feel that high of that commitment. I watched Emmitt Smith do it against the Giants,” Irvin said. “But then you feel the low of the injury, which is very hard to receive. You could see the frustration on his face and I think the crowd was confused about what had happened. They were clapping, but I think they were thinking more championship than going at KD.”
Irvin, who has his own history of playing through injuries, just couldn’t believe the storyline that played out and the drama the NBA has provided this season. He went on to say that if he was in Durant’s shoes, he would have done the same exact thing.
“He had a hell of an opportunity to make a hell of a moment there. And for those first 12 minutes putting up 11 points, he made that moment,” Irvin said. “Imagine if had not gotten hurt and they came back and won all those game. Do you understand the stratosphere Kevin Durant would have gone into. Nobody talks about the lure of that stratosphere. He’s looking to push past LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. He would have gone into that next stratosphere. If I’m in that situation, I’m doing the same thing.”