Kevin Durant was supposed to be the bedrock of Team USA. He was their best player, he was their leader, and he was the man that would lead the team to glory against all-comers of the world.
But on Thursday, he dropped a nuclear bomb on Team USA by withdrawing himself from the team. Durant never gave a reason as to why he was packing his bags and heading back to Oklahoma City. But a big part of the reason for his sudden departure was the freak Paul George injury.
Durant was one of the players traumatized by that incident, and after thinking about it and wondering if the same thing could happen to him, Durant wanted no part of it. The NBA season is far more important than the FIBA World Cup, and risking his season — a season in which he could win his first NBA title — is just too much to fathom.
So with Durant’s sudden departure, that leaves the team with a gigantic void to fill not only in the starting power forward spot, where Durant was slated to play, but in the leadership department. The only player with significant leadership capabilities on the team is Derrick Rose, but it is yet to be seen if he is back to his old self after two years of battling injuries.
You have to get the feeling that Team USA just got significantly weaker with the loss of Durant, and the aura surrounding the team is now gone. Team USA had a chance to do something special, to continue to show the world that the USA is a basketball nation.
They still can, as the team still has a wealth of talent on the roster. But without there leader, I just don’t see how Team USA can be favorites going up against the best the world has to offer.
Team USA is in trouble.