Kevin Durant‘s miraculous jumper at the end of regulation during Game 7 between the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks nearly sent his undermanned team to the Eastern Conference Finals. The superstar forward put a move on P.J. Tucker and stepped back in an attempt to win the game with a three, but the tip of his size-18 sneakers just barely grazed the 3-point line as he rose up for the shot.
The interesting part? Durant isn’t even a size-18.
If only Durant was wearing his correct shoe size, he might’ve sent the Nets to the ECF with one of the most heroic game-winners in NBA playoff history.
Kevin Durant was one inch away from sending the Nets to the ECF
When Durant stepped back on the court with his Nets trailing by two late in Saturday’s Game 7 against the Bucks, he knew exactly what he needed to do. Brooklyn was struggling to stay afloat with James Harden nursing a hamstring injury and Kyrie Irving sitting on the bench in street clothes, so Durant knew he had to go for the knockout punch.
After receiving the ball at the top of the key, Durant backed Tucker down to the 3-point line, spun back to his right, and drilled what he thought was the game-winning three. But on second look, his toes were just barely touching the 3-point arch when he lifted up for the shot.
Instead of waltzing into the Eastern Conference Finals thanks to one of the greatest clutch shots in playoff history, the Nets folded in OT and saw their season come to an end unexpectedly early. When Durant finally saw the replay of his long two, he couldn’t believe it.
“My big ass foot stepped on the line,” Durant told reporters after the game. “I just saw how close I was to ending their season with that shot.”
Durant wears his basketball shoes one size too big
As if Saturday’s season-ending loss wasn’t brutal enough for Nets fans, a little-known fact about Durant’s shoe preferences made it even worse.
After the game, Royce Young of ESPN pointed out a 2018 interview in which Durant told Chris Herring of Sports Illustrated (previously FiveThirtyEight) that he wears a size-17 shoe, but he wears size-18s on the basketball court for comfort reasons.
“These are like slippers, man,” Durant told Herring. “And I just try to be as efficient as I can when I create what I want out there. I don’t want something that’s too bulky. So, sometimes they may come off, but the good thing is, I can slip them back on and keep playing.”
You gotta be kidding me. Durant’s size-18 sneakers were about an inch away from being behind the 3-point line on his incredible shot. If he was wearing his typical size-17s, the Nets might just be in the Eastern Conference Finals right now.
What’s next for Durant and the Nets?
The 2021 NBA title was clearly the Nets’ to lose. LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers had already been bounced, the Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks are unproven playoff teams, and the Western Conference finalists are both missing star players. Brooklyn’s Big 3 should’ve cruised to a championship this season.
But that Big 3 dwindled to a Big 2 when Harden injured his hamstring, then a Big 1 when Irving landed awkwardly on his ankle. Durant did all he could to lead the Nets past the Bucks and buy some time for his other two co-stars to get healthy, but he was one shoe size away from doing so.
All three All-Stars should be back on the roster next season, so the Nets will most likely enter 2022 as the favorites to win the title. If they can stay healthy and add a few helpful pieces this offseason, Brooklyn will be back with a vengeance next postseason.