A documentary film by HBO on Kevin Durant finally reveals what everyone knew but wanted to hear the NBA superstar say: He quit on Team USA before the basketball World Championship because of the Paul George injury. Any other reason he might have given was just covering up a truth that for some reason he tried to hide.
It took everything out of me seeing that. Everything I had to play for Team USA, that injury stripped it away from me. It felt awkward. Once we were playing, it just didn’t feel right for some reason.
The new sponsorship was part of the reason. Durant eventually signed with Nike, not Under Armour, but that doesn’t really matter. Big money for representing a multi-billion sports company. Not also the fatigue Durant felt from the previous season. It was the natural fear of getting hurt, only Durant, for reasons we can only speculate on, chose not to come clean about.
Does it make Durant any worse or better as a human being? Nope. But it sometimes feels as if he’s insulting the intelligence of fans and the sports media, possibly worrying about his reputation, by giving an answer everyone knows isn’t true.
The world will go on just the same with knowing Durant couldn’t allow himself to play after seeing George ending his season like that. Team USA went on to win the gold medal without him, not having even a hint of a problem along the way.
And Durant? He was unlucky to suffer from an injury just before the season began, mostly hurting the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team he was trying to help out by walking away from a commitment and an obligation he made.
Durant isn’t the first player to pull out of international basketball, although unlike LeBron James and Kevin Love, at least this summer, he didn’t announce it in advance. He led everyone on and had a change of heart because of something that happens from time to time in basketball. The first thing someone should worry about is himself. That’s the business of professional sports. But lying about your reasons when it’s quite clear what they really are is never a good idea.