Kyrie is skipping the playoffs for what basically amounts to soreness. It’s an extremely reasonable decision, too.
I thought Kyrie was on schedule to return, but then came down with a bacterial infection and removing the screws became a very necessary decision. Was there a report that said the infection wasn't serious and he could have put off the removal of the screws?
I am not trying to put you on the spot - I just had a different understanding of what happened.
He could have put off the first surgery. He could have taken antibiotics to put off the second surgery. In each case, it was simply an issue of pain tolerance, rather than structural stability. He didn’t get an infection due to the first surgery; it was pre-existing and wasn’t causing systemic issues. It was causing local site pain.
That’s what’s going on with Kawhi: pain that he doesn’t want to play through. Kevin McHale played through pain. So did IT. Can we blame players who don’t want to risk their future?
While it may have been a matter of pain tolerance in regards to the timing of Kyrie undergoing the first surgery to remove the tension wires, undergoing the second surgery was not a matter of pain tolerance but medical prudence (it was reported the first surgery had been successful in alleviating the pain). Leaving the screws in his knee and hoping the infection would just go away with antibiotics would have been an unwise decision, and it seems this surgery wasn't necessarily as much his choice, but the recommendation of his doctors. This isn't a situation where the team and the player are at odds over the decision.
And ultimately, had Kyrie not elected to get the first surgery to remove the tension wires the doctors may not have discovered the infection before it became worse. And while it could be argued he should have had both the tension wires and screws removed prior to this season, Kyrie tried to play through it until he no longer could bear the pain.
But to you larger point, regarding players playing through pain, I agree that a player needs to do what they feel is in their own best interest, even if it isn't what the team thinks is best. It's their body, and their health. But I do feel like in this particular case, Kyrie's decision was not only the best for him, but best for the team in the long run. Putting it off any longer could have very well made things worse, and the Celtics medical staff seemed to agree.