Citing mental and physical fatigue, Kevin Durant, the NBA’s reigning MVP, pulled out of the FIBA World Cup later this summer in Spain. Durant informed USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo and Coach Mike Krzyzewski of his plans Thursday afternoon, less than a week after Paul George sustained a compound fracture in his right leg during a Team USA intrasquad game in Las Vegas. Though visibly rattled afterward, the Oklahoma City star said the decision to back out was not related to George’s injury.
“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 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.”
In the past few weeks, all-stars Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard all withdrew from the competition. Durant led the Americans to gold medals in the 2010 FIBA world championships and the 2012 London Olympics.
During a training session for rising players last year, Durant and Love declared their commitment to play in the FIBA World Cup in a rushed news conference. Now, Team USA will move forward without both.
“Kevin reached out to Coach K and myself this afternoon and expressed that he is just physically and mentally drained from the NBA season and his attention to his many responsibilities. 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,” Colangelo said in a statement. “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. He’s been part of the National Team program for eight years and a big part of the success we have achieved, and we look forward to him being part of our success in the future as well.”
LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul all declined to play this summer after representing the country in the past two Olympics.
Team USA’s roster is now down to 15 players, including all-stars Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan and Anthony Davis. Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal and Atlanta all-star forward Paul Millsap were all cut earlier this week. The team will reconvene in Chicago on Aug. 14. The FIBA World Cup begins on Aug. 30 in Spain and the gold medal winner earns an automatic bid in the 2016 Olympics.
“We are excited about the opportunity ahead of us and to getting back to work in Chicago on Aug. 14,” Colangelo said in the statement. “All 15 players are committed to the USA Basketball standard, which is to come together to win gold medals.”