Kevin Durant was supposed to be the offensive cornerstone of USA Basketball during the FIBA World Cup this summer, and he was a full participant in the Las Vegas mini-camp, with no reason to believe he wouldn’t finish out the commitment that he made.
But Durant bailed on the team somewhat unexpectedly, citing fatigue and a desire to be fresh for the long grind of the regular season as his main reasons why.
As it turns out, the horrific injury that Paul George suffered in a Las Vegas scrimmage was the primary factor that influenced Durant’s decision.
A few days before he reached out to Krzyzewski, Durant watched Indiana Pacers forward Paul George break his right leg in a horrific collision with a basket stanchion during a Team USA basketball scrimmage in Las Vegas that convinced the reigning NBA MVP to withdraw from the FIBA World Cup.
“It took everything out of me seeing that,” Durant later told friend Randy Williams and a Nike executive at his camp of George. “Everything I had to play for Team USA, that injury stripped it away from me.” …
After Durant is shown reacting on court to what he called a “freak accident,” the scene shifts to conversation with Durant in which he says, “When you see something like that, so gruesome, in front of you, of course you’re going to think, ‘This could happen to me.’ ”
Honestly, it’s tough to blame Durant at all for making this decision. While honesty from him would have been nice from the jump, the reality is that the NBA season is what’s most important to Durant’s legacy.
Being part of yet another USA Basketball romp through international play pales in comparison to being healthy enough to compete for an NBA title, which is the only thing missing at this point from Durant’s extremely impressive résumé.
George’s injury was merely a reminder that players can get injured at any time while competing at the highest level. Durant realized this, and if he was bothered by it to the point where he needed to bow out, there’s absolutely zero reason to be ashamed by coming to grips with this decision.