Brooklyn Nets: Kevin Durant’s Olympics start proves he should’ve rested

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 12: Kevin Durant #7 of the United States (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 12: Kevin Durant #7 of the United States (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets haven’t played a quarter of basketball in weeks due to the unceremonious end of their season, but that hasn’t stopped superstar Kevin Durant from hooping for his country. Rather than take it easy, Durant is taking on the responsibility of leading Gregg Popovich and Team USA to a gold medal.

Durant is coming off of almost carrying the Nets to the conference finals after injuries sidelined Kyrie Irving and limited what James Harden was able to do.

Most stars in that situation would decide to rest, but Durant is going to Tokyo with the intent of once again continuing the United States’ international dominance.

Instead, Durant has helped oversee two of the more embarrassing losses in recent international history, as the Americans failed to pull out victories against Gabe Vincent’s Nigeria and Patty Mills’ Australia in a span of three days.

After losing in the FIBA World Cup in 2019 with a roster that featured minimal NBA superstar talent, a renewed wave of momentum to get stars back into the fold helped Team USA fill out their roster with some of the best in the world. However, it appears as though they are taking time to gel under Popovich, and count Durant among those who hasn’t looked like himself.

The performances have been very uneven, as Durant shot just 30% in the Nigeria game and failed to top 17 points against Australia. KD seems to be running on fumes after a tough season, and there is no shame in admitting that. The injured Harden has decided to rest, and Durant should’ve done the same.

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant didn’t need to play in the Olympics.

The Nets were being perhaps overly cautious with Durant this year, as he was working his way back from his Achilles injury in 2019. Even when Durant had a hamstring problem earlier in the year, he wasn’t allowed back in the lineup until the Nets were 150% sure that he would be ready to go.

Harden was playing hurt in the series against Milwaukee, and Durant was never on the injury report, but that doesn’t mean that he should’ve been so cavalier about such a huge undertaking like this. That Achilles and hamstring need as much rest as possible.

Why is Kevin Durant in the Olympics?

Durant may not like to admit it, but he cares about his legacy and what people think of him. If he is using the Olympics as a springboard to further influence his position in the GOAT rankings or status within the league, he’s fighting a losing battle, as the Olympics won’t do anything in that regard.

No one, and I mean no one, will use Durant getting an Olympic gold as evidence that he is better than another player. Sure, it can be a nice side story in his basketball career, much like the Dream Team was for Michael Jordan, but KD didn’t need to jeopardize his health and the Nets’ hopes in 2021 by participating in this.

These Olympics, which should be canceled in all honesty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held without spectators. Sure, it won’t be a good look if the heavily favored Americans crash out of the competition, but this loss is not going to linger around Durant. He has nothing to gain or lose from this, so why even make the decision to play?

No one would fault Durant for a second if he decided to rest up in the offseason, as he had a ton on his plate over the course of the year. While the Americans could still win the gold, Durant should be careful about overworking himself, as a fatigued KD could hurt his country and the Nets.