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Oklahoma City Thunder: Five possible reasons why Kevin Durant dropped out of World Cup

After Durant followed in Russell Westbrook’s footsteps and backed out of the tournament, the Thunder’s two biggest stars are now safe, no longer subject to additional wear and tear or injury while not on the company’s time.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: August 8, 2014

Paul George’s injury. Despite the best efforts of USA Basketball officials Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski to distance the connection of a star player being injured and subsequently lost for the upcoming season while prepping for an international, the gruesome broken right leg that the Indiana Pacers forward suffered undoubtedly entered the minds of his Team USA teammates in some way or another. Durant looked as distraught as anyone at the sight of George stretched out adjacent to the controversial stanchion. He had to be consoled by New Orleans forward Anthony Davis, and five days later Durant’s decision was made. That’s not to suggest Durant is afraid of getting injured. We’ve seen ample evidence to believe otherwise. But if Durant’s heart wasn’t fully in it before, George’s injury might have led Durant to only do more soul-searching about what exactly he was signing up for.

Pressure from a sponsor. It’s the NBA. You’ve got to have a conspiracy theory. And this one might be as crazy as all the others. But it’s hard to ignore. Durant reportedly is on the verge of leaving longtime sponsor Nike and signing a massively lucrative endorsement deal with Under Armour. Well, guess which shoe and apparel heavy hitter sponsors USA Basketball? That’s right, Nike. It’s possible, perhaps even probable for all we know, that some Under Armour executive requested Durant bow out of the competition so that he wouldn’t be plastered in Nike apparel for a month. Sure, it sounds far-fetched. But this is big business, and Durant might soon have 300 million reasons why he would have granted such a request.

It’s just not worth his time. This isn’t the Summer Olympics. This is an event to qualify for the Summer Olympics. This is a tournament that has rebranded itself from the FIBA World Championship to the FIBA World Cup partly in an attempt to drum up more interest. This is a field the Americans are expected to dominate — at least until the championship game — with or without Durant. Organizers and USA Basketball officials want to make it about patriotism. As if LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love are any less patriotic for choosing to not play. Durant has given his time and his talents to Team USA, dominating this tournament in 2010 and helping the U.S. take gold in the 2012 Summer Olympics. He’ll likely rejoin the mix for the 2016 Summer Olympics. But forget talk of doing it for the red, white and blue. There are simply better ways Durant could be spending his time.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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