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Shaquille O’Neal Believes Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Injury May Lead To A Kevin Durant-Achilles Situation

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Shaquille O'Neal Believes Giannis Antetokounmpo's Injury May Lead To A Kevin Durant-Achilles Situation

The Milwaukee Bucks’ dwindling odds of winning the NBA title suffered a potentially fatal blow in their surprise 104-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday. During the third quarter, superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo tossed an inbound pass to teammate Damian Lillard and was nonchalantly making his way down the court when he suddenly hit the floor and clutched his calf. He writhed in pain as the Bucks’ medical staff tended to him before helping him limp to the locker room for further treatment.

Post-game, the Bucks reported that Antetokounmpo had a soleus sprain and will sit out of the team’s remaining three regular season fixtures and aim to return for the opening round of the playoffs. The diagnosis calmed the Bucks’ nerves, who unsurprisingly presumed the worst. However, despite the diagnosis, the NBA on TNT crew believes that the two-time MVP’s injury could still lead to a potentially severe ailment.

Hall of Famer Charles Barkley compared Antetokounmpo’s injury timeline to Kevin Durant’s in 2019. He said,

“When Kevin Durant had the same injury, he was out a month before he came back and played. And he blew out his Achilles his first game back.”

Shaquille O’Neal added that he’s concerned that Antetokounmpo’s playstyle makes him more prone to aggravating or potentially suffering a long-term injury. The former Los Angeles Lakers superstar recalled suffering an Achilles tendon injury, which practically ended his NBA career, and said that the treatment and recovery have to go smoothly to avoid long-term damage to his health.

“My concern for him is the way he plays. He goes so hard. Of course he’s going to do his treatment, he’s not going to do anything. But, he is the type of guy that when he comes back he’s going to want to go hard to 10!”

Barkley and O’Neal’s concerns are valid. In Game 5 of the 2019 Western Conference semifinal series between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets, Durant suffered a calf strain that left him sidelined for a month. The Warriors made it to the NBA Finals without their superstar forward but found themselves down 3-1 against the Toronto Raptors.

With his team in dire straits, Durant returned in Game 5 and was looking sharp before he hit the floor in the second quarter clutching his Achilles, and exited the court. He was later diagnosed with a ruptured Achilles tendon, which sidelined him for 18 months.

Despite taking a month to nurse himself back to health, Durant lasted only 12 minutes before suffering a career-altering injury. The Bucks’ playoff journey commences in less than a week. If Antetokounmpo pushes the envelope on his recovery to help Milwaukee keep their season alive, he risks suffering the same fate Durant did in 2019. And given that his game is far more rooted in his athleticism than KD’s, the player risks killing his career completely with the injury.

Damian Lillard gives a realistic timeline for Giannis Antetokounmpo’s return from injury


Giannis Antetokounmpo will do everything in his power to ensure it doesn’t take him a month to return to action. However, his superstar teammate Damian Lillard knows it will be at least a fortnight before he sees the two-time MVP back on the court. Following the Bucks win over the Celtics, Milwaukee beat reporter Eric Nehm asked Lillard about his experience with a soleus sprain. He said,

That sh*t hurt. It hurt. And it makes sense that — When I did it, usually I’m able to walk things off. I feel like I have a high pain tolerance and when I did it, I started to walk, it wasn’t just that it was that painful, it was that the muscle just can’t handle it.”

Lillard added that he suffered his soleus sprain, right after returning from a calf injury that he had suffered prior, while also talking about how long it took him to recover.

“I think it was like a game or two after I came back (from calf injury), I did my soleus. And then after that, it was like two weeks. For me, it was like two weeks and then I came back and played.”

All signs point to a lengthy recovery time for Antetokounmpo. With injuries in the calf and Achilles areas being notorious for requiring a long time to heal up, Giannis may just be better off sitting this postseason out. After all, if he does re-aggravate the injury later, the consequences seem too dire to even consider. We wish the superstar a speedy recovery.

Post Edited By:Tonoy Sengupta

About the author

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar


Jay Lokegaonkar is a basketball journalist who has been following the sports as a fan 2005. He has worked in a slew of roles covering the NBA, including writer, editor, content manager, social media manager, and head of content since 2018. However, his primary passion is writing about the NBA. Especially throwback stories about the league's iconic players and franchises. Revisiting incredible tales and bringing scarcely believable stories to readers are one his main interests as a writer.

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