For so long, Kevin Durant seemed invincible.
Flip on the TV to watch some pro hoops, chances are you'd see Durant somewhere, dazzling the crowd on his way to 30-plus points. With only 16 games missed in his NBA career and four scoring titles, he's the closest thing the NBA has to a constant. Durant has played, and played, and played.
His workload has been immense. No one has played more regular-season minutes than Durant since he made his NBA debut in 2007. He logged 20,717 minutes over that time, which is 4,000 more than anyone in his draft class. He kept grinding during the offseason. He led Team USA in minutes in the 2010 FIBA World Cup in Turkey and, immediately after his first-ever Finals run in 2012, Durant logged more minutes than anyone on the star-studded Olympics team in London.
Then Durant did something he has never done before: He voluntarily stopped playing. In August, he opted out of FIBA World Cup at the last minute due to mental and physical fatigue. And this week, we learned he won't be playing for a long time after suffering a stress fracture in his foot. The technical term is a Jones fracture, which could sideline him for two months or more.
The marvelous power of rest has been studied in leagues around the globe. The findings have started trickling into the NBA as we've seen the champion San Antonio Spurs strategically rest their stars over the years. A recent study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that injury rate in the UEFA Champions League was six times higher when soccer players played two matches per week versus one match per week. As we learned this summer from the "Sleep Doctor," getting proper rest amid the NBA's hectic 82-game schedule is essential to health. Using Catapult Sports' system that monitors overexertion levels, Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher reported that soft-tissue injuries were down 88 percent.
With Durant barely missing any games prior to his injury, it's common to hear about his remarkable durability. But is it possible that Durant's greatest strength became a weakness? Was the injury preventable?
I talked to one of the industry's leading sports scientists along with ESPN's Dr. Mark Adickes to find out.