Not as lovable or likable as before, quitting on Team USA after already being part of one training camp won’t add popularity points to Kevin Durant, citing physical and mental fatigue as the reasons for his withdrawal from the selection process heading into the 2014 Basketball World Championships.
On an immediate outlook to this decision, this opens up a spot, because Durant was one of the five players with a guaranteed spot on the roster along with Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis and James Harden. With Paul George’s injury as well, the team lost its two best small forwards in less than one week, although Durant’s way of doing it wasn’t exactly classy, and won’t be something people let him forget very soon.
If LeBron James would have done this, the internet and anyone involved or interested in NBA basketball would be in uproar about ‘Lequitter’ or some other clever name they’d come up with. But this is Durant, someone who has yet to infuriate the mass of NBA fans with some decision that they see as classless or treacherous. While USA basketball doesn’t exactly stir patriotic feelings among the general public, Durant showing up and then at the last moment pulling a U-turn isn’t going to help.
The guys in charge of his project, Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski, had nothing but praise for Durant, but it’s hard to say if that’s what they feel inside. Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and Kawhi Leonard have also pulled out of the running for the 12-man roster, as the prospect of playing in a competition other than the Olympics always stirs a lot less excitement among NBA players.
How does the Durant resignation from the squad affect the team? Maybe they’re not favorites anymore. Spain are the hosts, and although the bookies aren’t giving them the top spot yet, it’s becoming a lot closer all of a sudden, as the two best players in the NBA have decided not to play, and the team that will be going to the competition is far from the best that could have been assembled.
Players should do what’s good for them. Being selfish helps prolong your career. But Durant had the chance to pull out way before the team was built around him. There’s plenty of scoring talent on the remaining players pool but nothing quite like Kevin Durant, who showed a little something about his mental fortitude by flip flopping his way to this decision, and you have to wonder what magic words were whispered into his ear before he announced he’s not going to take part in the competition.
The Paul George injury, his huge upcoming contract with Under Armour. Durant might be talking about fatigue, but there’s a very good chance there are very different reasons to him pulling out of the team.