Less than a week following the gruesome injury sustained by Indiana Pacers forward Paul George, Kevin Durant has decided to remove himself from international competition this summer, leaving Team USA citing exhaustion and fatigue as the reasons why. He has never made a better decision.
Durant, who is already an Olympic gold medalist (London 2012), has nothing left to gain on the international stage and everything to lose. He has also already won a FIBA gold medal in 2010 in Turkey, truly solidifying his decision to withdraw from this summer’s international team.
Durant’s sole focus, in basketball terms, should be bettering himself and his team — the Oklahoma City Thunder — so that he can finally get over the proverbial hump, raise the Larry O’Brien trophy and call himself an NBA champion. There is no possibility of accomplishing this feat if he’s walking on crutches as his leg lie motionless in a plaster cast, healing from a complex fracture.
This isn’t to say that Paul George’s injury is a trend, but it can happen again. Just last year, Kevin Ware of the Louisville Cardinals suffered the same injury, and he has yet to see a minute of official game action. This freak injury is physically and emotionally jarring and takes over a year to heal from. Don’t expect the Pacers to be contenders this upcoming season without their top option.
Durant isn’t the most stout of NBA players and calling him fragile wouldn’t yield many disagreements. He is incredibly thin. His legs look like pixie sticks, capable of shattering at any given cut on the floor. It is a shame to see George suffer the injury and be forced to sit out his NBA season because he enjoyed playing competitively in international play.
Durant, however, need not take the risk, for he has no possible reward. He has every international merit he needs, and subjecting himself to potential injury with no reward seems like an immature decision, potentially hurting himself and the organization.
Withdrawing himself from Team USA isn’t only the correct decision for Durant — it is the only logical one.