Kevin Durant cited physical and mental fatigue in leaving the U.S. basketball team, which is preparing for the World Cup later this summer.
I don’t know if Paul George’s gruesome injury suffered last weekend played any part in Durant’s decision. Neither do I care, just so long as Durant made the decision.
The risk/reward nature of international summer play came into full view with George’s injury. Especially in a non-Olympic year.
Last week, before George’s injury, I said on one of our press row videos that I wished Durant wouldn’t play internationally in the summer. Too much wear and tear on the Thunder franchise player. Durant’s words Thursday sounded like he agreed with my assessment.
“”This was an extremely difficult decision as I take great pride in representing our country,” Durant said in a Thunder release. “I know that I owe it to my USA Basketball teammates to be totally invested in the experience. After going through training camp with USAB, I realized I could not fulfill my responsibilities to the team from both a time and energy standpoint. I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season. I will be rooting for USAB and look forward to future opportunities with them.”
Even if Paul George had two good legs today, Durant’s words would ring true. It would be no surprise if Durant was suffering from an energy shortage. He should be worn out physically and mentally, having played more than 100 NBA games, most of them consisting of minutes in the 40 range.
But after the George injury, Durant had to ask himself, what am I doing? The fatigue factor, the potential injury factor, the risk is too much. A friend of mine called the other day, a guy respect as much as anyone I’ve ever known in sports. He disagreed with my column from Monday, in which I said Durant needed step away from international ball. You can read that column here.
My friend said the best reason to play basketball is to play for God, which I assume he means something like Athletes in Action. Second on the list is playing for country. It’s a compelling argument.
But we don’t really feel that way as fans. We put the Thunder, or the Pacers, or the Spurs, or whatever team to which you hold allegiance, at the forefront. Which is why Durant’s decision Thursday was very good news.