This summer is throwing a serious wrench at Jerry Colangelo and his plans for the World Championships. After LeBron James indicated that he will not be participating in the FIBA games in Turkey, Dwyane Wade confirmed to our own Ira Winderman in the Miami Sun-Sentinel that he will not participate in the World Championships.
Wade cited his ongoing divorce (which makes the world championships seem like a tea party in terms of intensity), his free agency tour, and all of his business concerns. Wade is likely to join James, Dwight Howard, and several others as absent this summer.
There seems to be an ongoing sentiment among the NBA stars that their victory in the 2008 Olympics in Bejiing has given them the world competition legacy they need and there’s no need to follow up with this year’s championships. It calls into question their commitment to their country, but really, you can understand their situation. We all have things in our personal lives that interfere with our commitments to greater causes, and NBA players don’t deserve any further scrutiny because of it.
But beyond the All-Star dropouts is something looming. Kevin Durant is expected to be part of the team, and will likely be the biggest star for the US team. Durant’s progression to the top of the league has been evolving. First he won the HORSE contest at the All-Star Game in 2009, then took over the Rookie-Sophomores game. This year he led his team to the playoffs and pushed the Western Conference (and Finals?) champs to the limit. The next obvious step is for him to lead his country to victory, and his game is well suited to take over the FIBA games.
Even as Wade and his superstar brethren bow out, someone will take their place. Durant may be that player.