Toronto Raptors stars Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka have come to the defence of fans of the franchise after some inside Scotiabank Arena were heard cheering when Kevin Durant went down with an injury in Game 5 on Monday night.
Durant dropped to the ground early in the second quarter, holding his lower right leg. The Raptors players urged their fans to stop cheering, waiving their hands in a downward motion. Durant, who had missed the previous four games in the series due to injury, is feared to have suffered a torn Achilles on the play.
Ibaka, who noted he did not initially know the severity of Durant's injury when he lost the ball, pointed to the fans chanting "KD!" while Durant remained down as proof of the class of the Toronto fanbase.
“It’s an emotional game and fans they’re excited,” Ibaka explained to The Athletic. “Sometimes, when you’re excited, you kind of forget who you are, so it was our job to tell them to stop. And right away they stopped and they start cheering for him. That shows you how good our fans are. When you are emotional, you can sometimes forget, but the good thing about it, the crowd was cheering his name and to me that’s most important.”
“I think that I don’t think the fans knew the significance of the injury. They kind of just seen he went down,” Lowry added. “In this league we’re all brothers. At the end of the day, we’re all brothers and it’s a small brotherhood and you never want to see a competitor like him go down. You don’t know what the circumstances are. And for me it was just, listen, we don’t want anything to ever happen like that. We don’t know what’s this or that. So I just kind of — we don’t want that type of stuff.”
Toronto mayor John Tory rushed to the defence of city's basketball fans on Tuesday, stating cheers during the injury were "overstated."
"I was in the arena and it happened right at the end of a play and people were cheering at the end of the play but very quickly after that (Durant) got a very warm round of applause as he was taken on to the dressing room — as he should, he's a superstar, and nobody wants to see him hurt," Tory said.
Warriors star Stephen Curry, who lived in Toronto when his father played for the Raptors from 1999-2002, said Monday that the cheers left him "confused."
"It's not my experience with the people of this city," said Curry. "I just hope that ugliness doesn't show itself again as we go forward in this series."
Game 6 will take place Thursday at Oracle Arena in Oakland.