NBA: League MVP Durant leaves Team USA
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant announced that he had withdrawn from the U.S. national team and will not participate in the FIBA World Cup later this month in Spain.
Durant informed USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo on Thursday of his decision, saying he was physically and mentally drained. The news comes less than a week after he completed a weeklong training camp with the U.S. team, which lost Paul George to a serious leg 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 to the team 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.”
n Dallas Mavericks guard Raymond Felton has been suspended four games next season after pleading guilty to gun charges in New York, the NBA announced.
Felton pleaded guilty last month to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm. As part of a plea deal that allowed him to avoid jail time, Felton admitted he knowingly had a large-capacity ammunition magazine and a semi-automatic pistol without a license, according to ESPN.com.
Felton’s suspension will begin with the first game of the 2014-15 regular season.
The criminal case arose when Felton was in the midst of the breakup of his marriage and a poor season with the New York Knicks. He was traded to Dallas along with Tyson Chandler in a six-player deal in June.
n Greg Oden was arrested in Lawrence, Ind., for allegedly punching his ex-girlfriend.
The incident took place at Oden’s mother’s home, police said, and the NBA player admitted to wrongdoing when authorities arrived on the scene at 3:30 a.m.
Oden, a 7-foot center, has played just three seasons, dealing with chronic knee issues that prompted microfracture knee surgery. He was out of the NBA in 2013 but attempted a comeback last season with the Miami Heat, playing in 23 games. Oden is a free agent.
n ESPN suspended radio talk-show host Dan Le Batard for two days after he paid for billboards in Akron, Ohio, that mocked LeBron James’ return to Cleveland from a successful four-year run in Miami.
The billboard displayed two championship rings emblematic of the NBA titles won with the Heat and read, “You’re Welcome, LeBron; Love, Miami.”
James, who announced last month that he was going home to play for the Cavaliers, grew up in Akron and still lives in the area.
ESPN was not amused and apparently surprised by the billboard.
“Dan LeBatard will be off the air for two days, returning Monday,” ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said in a statement. “His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN’s standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance.”