COLORADO SPRINGS, USA – Reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant has pulled out of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, saying he is "mentally drained" from a long NBA regular season and playoff.
Durant's decision to withdraw on Thursday is another heavy blow to embattled Team USA and comes just days after they lost Paul George to a broken leg at the team's training camp in Las Vegas.
"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," Durant said. "I need to take a step back and some time away."
USA basketball watchers were fearful that George's gruesome injury in Las Vegas would spark a mass exodus of players from the American squad. George underwent surgery for a broken fibula and tibia and could miss the entire 2014-15 season.
The loss of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Durant leaves the US men's national team with 15 players battling for 12 spots on the squad that will compete in the FIBA World Cup later this month in Spain.
The team is already without US stars LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin who are missing for a variety of reasons.
Durant told team officials on Thursday that he was "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," USA Basketball director Jerry Colangelo said.
"Coach (Mike Krzyzewski) 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."
Durant won a gold medal with the Americans at the 2012 London Olympics and was named MVP of the 2010 FIBA world championships, when the Americans won gold.
The team is scheduled to resume training on August 14 in Chicago, a little over two weeks before the World Cup begins on August 30. – Rappler.com