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Kevin Durant is optimistic about getting back on the court

The Warriors star was in high spirits about his knee injury and he’s hopeful he’ll bounce back in no time

Kevin Durant walked into the news conference room very slowly with crutches fit for his nearly 7-foot frame, wearing a big left knee brace Wednesday night and a grey hoodie draped over his head. Instead of going up a short flight of stairs to sit on stage near the podium, the injured Golden State Warriors forward plopped into a nearby chair. The mood appeared to have potential to go in a dark direction.

But as soon as Durant took questions for about eight minutes, he quickly switched the tone to an optimistic one with his jokes and positive outlook over his basketball “boo-boo.”

“It could be a lot worse. I hurt my knee,” a smiling Durant said before the Warriors’ home game against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. “A lot of guys go through this, go through a lot of injuries. It’s nothing nobody should be concerned about. I got a boo-boo playing basketball. It is what it is.

“I’m OK. My spirits are good. My family is good. I’m doing what I love to do every single day, so it’s all right.”

Durant had reason to feel thankful after facing a possible nightmare in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 28. Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat tossed Warriors center Zaza Pachulia out of the lane and into Durant’s important knees. Durant was in immediate pain and limped to the visiting locker room while friends and family members, Warriors fans and fans of his game watched in horror in person and on television.

Durant initially worried that he had a fractured right tibia. An equally concerned Warriors locker room had the mood of a funeral after the loss as hopes of winning another NBA championship immediately became more challenging without their new star.

After about a half-hour of fear haunted him mentally, Durant received word from a doctor that he did have a serious injury but it was not season-ending or in need of surgery. Rather, he had a Grade 2 MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise. The Warriors stated that Durant would be re-evaluated in four weeks and there was hope he could return before the regular season ends on April 12.

“It was a crucial probably 30 minutes where I thought that I’d have to go through this long rehab to get back onto the court,” Durant said. “And then I got a call that said it wasn’t as bad, so, that kind of eased my mind a little bit. But like I said, either way, I knew it’s something I had to conquer. I knew it’s something I had to work extremely hard to get back. I still do, no matter what, and I’ve been through it before.

Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant walks on crutches as he arrives for a news conference prior to the team’s NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in Oakland, Calif.

AP Photo/Ben Margot

“So, it’s a reason that I’m here now is that I work extremely hard and it’s nothing different. It’s just trying to get my knee right and get my body right. And hopefully I’ll be back to play soon.”

So how soon is soon?

Durant declined to give any details about his possible return date. He declined to answer whether he was using cryogenic chamber therapy, which has a reputation as an effective recovery therapy for athletes. He did reveal that he was watching a lot of television and movies, playing video games for fun and keeping his jumper wet in a chair.

“I just do treatment on my knee and lift weights,” Durant said. “I shoot in a chair. I shot in a chair the other day. I have to keep the jumper right. That’s what I’ve been doing, and I’m sure that’s what I’ll be doing the next few days, but the next two weeks, I really don’t know. I’m just taking it a day at a time. We’ll see what happens, man.

“I’m looking forward to conquering this thing and getting better day by day and putting in the work every single day and getting out there and playing and enjoying the game with my teammates and playing in front of these fans. We’ll see what happens the next few weeks.”

But Warriors coach Steve Kerr may have revealed a possible return timeline.

“I told him six weeks goes by pretty quick. He has a long life ahead of him. It would be great if we could get him back in the last week of the regular season or so, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” Kerr said.

So far, the Warriors are 2-2 since Durant was sidelined and are in jeopardy of losing the top-seed spot to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference playoffs. Six weeks from Wednesday is April 5, a week before the Warriors’ regular-season finale. More information will likely be revealed when Durant has his next MRI in three weeks. Until then, nothing is certain about Durant’s return.

Even so, based on Durant’s mood, Kerr’s words and the lack of surgery, there was a sense of optimism as the grateful star forward used his crutches to depart to the Warriors’ locker room.

“I had three foot surgeries, and that was tough to go through because it was my first one being out, going under and getting surgery,” Durant said. “That was different. But now, I didn’t have to get surgery, so I’m just rehabbing every single day. It could be worse, like I said, so mentally I’m good. I’m in a good place.

“I’m not playing right now, which is tough. But I’m getting better day by day and I’ll be out there as soon as I’m ready to play.”

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for The Undefeated. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.