Kevin Durant decided yesterday to withdraw from Team USA, with a statement that he is both mentally and physically exhausted from his regular season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“This was an extremely difficult decision as I take great pride in representing our country. 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 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,” Durant said in his statement.
Coach Mike Kryzyzewski and Team USA Managing Director Jerry Colangelo expressed their support for Durant and his much-needed time away to rest. “He tried to give it a go at our recent Las Vegas training camp but felt coming out of camp that he was not prepared to fulfill the commitment he made to the team. Coach K and I fully support Kevin. His well being is the most important thing to us and we support him taking the time to get ready for next season.”
Some have said that the recent injury of fellow Team USAer Paul George is one factor that convinced Durant to quit the team, but there are likely more reasons than just the Paul George injury. For one, it could be the case that Durant is tired. If you play an 80-game season, you would be tired, too. While the players love basketball and commit to the game, there are times when the body no longer commits. Every player needs to know how to take a step back and understand that the body may be tough, but not invincible. Kevin Durant is making a wise decision to understand that the mental and physical commitments of the game mandate a rest at some point.
Next, it could be the case that the Paul George injury shook Kevin Durant a little. After all, players know when they sign up for the game of basketball that they could gain a permanent injury that puts them out of play. At the same time, however, few individuals perceive that it could truly happen to them. Perhaps looking at Paul George being carried out of that Las Vegas arena on a stretcher hit Kevin Durant in a way that reminded him that he, too, is as physically vulnerable to injury as Paul George. When incidences such as these happen (or someone is injured in a car accident), it jolts people out of their confident belief that nothing could happen to them. Perhaps that is what happened with Kevin Durant. The idea that he could get a Team USA injury and not be available for the next OK City Thunder season may have been the catalyst to push him forward with his announcement.
Either way, injury is always a risk to a player’s career. The body can only play the game for so long anyway. If you do not believe this is true, just ask star players such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal.