Kevin Durant has decided against playing for the USA Basketball Men’s National Team in this summer’s FIBA World Cup, becoming the latest yet biggest star to announce his withdrawal from the tournament.
Durant informed USA Basketball officials of his decision Thursday afternoon, citing physical and mental fatigue from the NBA season.
The reigning NBA MVP was one of three holdovers from the U.S. squad that took gold in the 2012 Summer Olympics. This round of international competition again requires more than a month long commitment, which includes extensive travel to exhibition games in Las Vegas, Chicago, New York and Spain, as well as a trip to the African country of Senegal.
The World Cup, formerly known as the World Championship, will be held in Spain from Aug. 30 through Sept. 14.
“This was an extremely difficult decision, as I take great pride in representing our country,” Durant said in a statement. “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.”
Other players who withdrew their names from consideration this summer include Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, Minnesota forward Kevin Love and San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard. With the exception of Love, who is expected to be traded to Cleveland later this month, each player that pulled out pointed to a desire to rest.
Some of the NBA’s most established stars such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul never intended on playing internationally this summer.
It was a wonder why Durant did.
Durant and Love in a joint announcement last summer committed to this year’s World Cup.
“USA Basketball, man, that’s all you really need to know,” Durant explained then of his commitment. “It’s kind of self-explanatory playing for your country.”
Durant reiterated his commitment on July 28, the opening day of the national team’s training camp.
“I always wanted to be here,” Durant said. “My basketball life is short when you look at it in the grand scheme of things. I really want to play as much as I can and try not to worry about my body. I know that sounds a little crazy and a little whacky. I want to take care of myself, but at the same time I want to play and experience all this stuff. I learn so much. I soak it all in. It’s an exciting time, and right now I am enjoying it. I want to have some memories to look back on because in 10, 12, 15 years it flies by.”
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