Sheridan: Jay-Z taking blame for Durant quitting Team USA

Jay-ZSheridanheCHICAGO – Not a lot of Jay-Z fans here. At least not among the U.S. federation.

They aren’t exactly burning his CDs, but they are enumerating the burned bridges as the fallout from Kevin Durant’s abrupt departure from the U.S. national team continues to spread.

Team USA is only the latest entity to be left with a sour taste after dealing with Durant and his latest agent. The folks at Nike aren’t exactly happy. The folks at Gatorade already were unhappy.

“It’s like Jay-Z is determined to do a scorched earth negotiation with everyone Kevin Durant is currently aligned with, and they aren’t doing him any favors,” one source close to Durant told SheridanHoops on Friday as Team USA prepared for its first exhibition game in preparation for the 2014 World Cup. 

On the court Saturday night at the United Center, the game will be all about Derrick Rose’s return to action. Unless, of course, something happens that relegates Rose to an afterthought.

A loss to Brazil would do that.

And the thinking here is that Team USA is ripe to be picked off after having just two days to install an entirely new offensive game plan following Durant’s withdrawal from the team. Or to use a better word, which I have already done: Quit.

Yes, Durant quit the team.

It is semantics, but “withdrew” is reserved for players who told the federation before training camp began that they would not be attending. If you attended camp in Las Vegas, and if you called coach Mike Krzyzewski to ask for advice on how to be a “leader” when camp resumed in Chicago, and then you blindside Coach K and every other member of the national team, you have “quit.”

unicornAnd folks out there need to stop giving Durant a free pass on this. Find me one national columnist for a mainstream media outlet who has blasted Durant for leaving Team USA. Go ahead, just one. Your search will be fruitless, because that columnist is unicornish. He or she does not exist.

Well, no free pass here.

What Kevin Durant did was shameful.

And what I have discovered in talking to members of the U.S. federation over the past two days is this: Durant and his agency, Roc Nation, are more interested in cashing in on his MVP award and his expiring Nike deal than they are in having Durant keep his word to the people who were with him in 2010 in Turkey at the World Championship and in 2012 in London at the Olympics.

Team director Jerry Colangelo said he could see signs in Las Vegas that Durant was distracted. Krzyzewski reiterated Friday that Durant’s actions blindsided everyone.

“Looking back, if you could turn back time. you would like for him to make that decision before Vegas. We might have invited somebody different,” Krzyzewski said. “But saying that, that’s in the past, we’re forward, and it puts us a little behind, just like the injuries.”

More from Krzyzewski, in an exclusive interview with SheridanHoops:

“I think he had a good camp, not a great camp,” the coach added. “He was not as vocal as he usually was. Even after Paul (George’s) injury, he was saying ‘What can we do when we go to Chicago to get the guys to rally?’ So that’s the reason we were caught unexpected. I asked him to be a leader, and he was leading after the Vegas game.

“And then he wasn’t with us. ”

Durant spent Wednesday at the headquarters of UnderArmour, which is reportedly offering him a $325 million, 10-year deal to leave Nike. A source told SheridanHoops that adidas is making an under-the-radar push to sign Durant, too, when his current deal with Nike expires Sept. 30 – the eve of training camp for the upcoming NBA season.

merittSince signing with Jay-Z, Durant already has ended his affiliation with Gatorade to sign with Sparkling Ice. That happened nearly a year ago, with Gatorade curtly announcing that Durant’s deal would not be renewed.

Durant has been with Nike since entering the NBA, and Nike has a close affiliation with USA Basketball and FIBA. Clearly, there would be some discomfort if Durant decided to leave Nike at a time when he was scheduled to be traveling to Grand Canaria, Bilbao, Barcelona and Madrid on a three-week overseas trip where he would be riding on the same bus with numerous Nike executives. That dynamic surely played a part in his decision to quit the team.

But industry insiders said there remains a possibility that Durant will ultimately renew his deal with Nike. Two weeks ago in Las Vegas, he was seen playing high-stakes blackjack with Nike executive Lynn Merritt at the Wynn Resort.

A couple days later, the news of the UnderArmour negotiations went public.

So what’s next?

For Durant, who knows? Again, his apologists in the national mainstream media will tell you this is no big deal.

I am here to tell you it is indeed a big deal.

Durant’s public image can go one of two ways: Up or down. Everyone who knows him well will tell you he is a great guy. But he has changed agents twice since entering the NBA, starting with Aaron Goodwin, moving to Rob Pelinka (who reps Kobe Bryant) and then signing with Jay-Z.

I have heard more about Durant’s inner circle – and the feuds and fallout he is experiencing – than I am comfortable reporting. But I will say this: All is not well with the reigning MVP. Far from it. What we are seeing now is the manifestation of that dysfunction.

iquiteHe QUIT the national team.

He shouldn’t have.

We all make mistakes. Durant is making one now. The blame is being placed on Jay-Z.

In Jay-Z’s world, Kevin Durant can become the next R0binson Cano. In the real world, Kevin Durant is 10 times more marketable than Robinson Cano. Does Kevin know that? Jay-Z does. But do you think he is telling that to KD?

Let’s see where this goes from here. I am not a gambling man (unless we are talking poker), but I would imagine Brazil will cover Saturday night. Brazil is loaded.

And if Team USA loses Saturday night, remember this: There is no chance of the Americans losing again until they play their semifinal match in Barcelona against Lithuania. The remainder of the team is pretty darned good.

But they are not a lock to win the gold.

And Jay-Z is a big part of the reason why.

Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of He has covered every senior U.S. men’s national team since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Follow him on Twitter.


  1. Tomy says

    This article is such a joke. Go work for yahoo if you’re into comedy bc everything you were writing about is ridiculous and cries for attention. Hope you read this and laugh bc iin fact you’re the joke.

  2. John says

    This is pretty ridiculous. Kevin Durant actually decided to take part in the World Cup unlike all other NBA superstars (Lebron,Carmelo,Kobe,CP3, Blake Griffin) he then withdrew which I wouldn’t have wanted him to go but he has played the most total minutes int the NBA last season, having trouble with his Nike endorsements, having spent a lot of the summer building playgrounds in Oklahoma City,and on top of that the injury or Paul George made him more cautious about playing as the top 2 goals are another MVP season and a championship. KD was trying to juggle to much at once and actually made a desicion centered around himself for once, something LeBron and Melo have done countless times

  3. Ron Benton says

    Sheridan, you’re a clown! Drumming up drama where there is none. I guess having only 12 NBA players on your roster in an absolutely nothing tournament’s not enough for you.

    KD has done his part. Let somebody else put some work in. Clown ass actually!

  4. says

    Sheridan your a hack..i no u have 2 fill up your column with useless crap..this is these guys are a hater..u probally make chump change…be honest if you had chance 2 sign about 500 nillion of contracts …you would think twice about killing your career after u saw what happened 2 p,george..U DINOSAUR

    • JCF says

      You are asking the wrong person. Read Sheridan’s story. He made a tough choice in his own career and chose integrity over money. In KDs case, he could have it all: money, health, AND professional integrity. KD made some decisions that are short on professional integrity. It isn’t the end of the world, everyone makes mistakes and he is young. But over time, it would be better for him personally and professionally if he develops more integrity in his dealings with his basketball industry colleagues and business sponsors.

  5. ComradeDylan says

    What is the BS blog? For intelligent readers and veteran writers? How pretentious can you be? Well obviously you think highly enough of yourself to think you are the person to shame KD. Oh thank god no one gave him a free pass, it’s only the sports world were figures are loved and hated for completely illogical reasons, but yeah tell us why you know what KD needs to do to be a good person like your old ass.

  6. RP says

    Thank you for telling the truth! Everyone trying to apologize for him when he really showed his true , greedy, selfish colors. Enjoy him you can OKC cause in two years he’s bolting for a bigger market.

    • Deondre says

      The bigger story is Gay-Z. I bet his net worth is cut to one third after the divorce and failed agency. He botched Robinson Cano’s contract negotiations as the player wanted to remain in New York. The organization was turned off by the way it was presented before them. He’s taking a player who thus far has had masterful PR in Durant and burning bridges with the biggest marketers in sports endorsement. If the Durant free agency is mishandled, this guy’s real business acumen will be exposed. Maybe Damon Dash, Memphis Bleak were right all along.

    • Les says

      The bigger markets and the national media would love it if he left and will do everything they can to encourage it. They do not now and never will see what he loves about OKC. The odds of where he lands in two years (discussed seriously on a recent national sports show) were something like OKC 40%, Lakers 16%, Knicks 20%, Washington 20%, other 4%. In other words, he is more likely to leave OKC than to stay there but nobody has much of a chance to get him. Hmm.

  7. Tim says

    I’ts not acrime for a young man to change his mind and decide not to travel around the world playing basketball, doesn’t need to justify anyting to the public. Sheridan is obvbviously on some misguided witch hunt against a guy who seems to be a great role model and great basketball player. Sheridan is reaching.

  8. Tim says

    Sheridan has some weird hatred for Durant. What did he do wrong? quit a tounament, hardly the first. And it’s his business to make money with whatever company he wants. waste of time reading this article. And check the rosters again, U.S.A is a lock to win the gold, even without K.D.

    • Matt says

      While you’re checking those rosters, take a look at who Spain is bringing to the party… then realize THAT’S why the USA isn’t a lock to win anything.

    • jerrytwenty-five says

      Reporters are supposed to seek the truth. KD gave a misleading reason for why he QUIT. Someone needs to call him out for that.

      Fortunately, Sheridan is his own boss, but hasn’t been taken seriously until recently. Media outlets (ESPN, NBATV, CBS, SI, etc) didn’t have the courage and independence to “call out” KD. Maybe CS went over the top her, to get attention he deserves, but the result is the same:

      KD was a quitter and you can also blame Jay-Z. (I just hope that Jay-Z points KD towards Brooklyn, come 2016).

  9. Landry says

    For once, let’s give credit where it is due. Chris Sheridan is right. KD got a free pass. Can you imagine if it were LBJ?
    KD commits to USAB and decides to leave midway through. He gets a pass.
    KD brakes his engagement with fiancée by cheating. He gets a pass.
    KD gives the kill sign after a dunk during an nba game. He gets a pass.
    KD disappears in the western conference finals against SA. He gets a pass.
    Contrast this with…
    LBJ is faithful to his wife. Nobody cares.
    LBJ as a free agent and man decides to leave and win chips. He is the villain.
    LBJ has cramps in the nba finals. He is a quitter.
    What’s wrong with America?

    • BigDeck says

      KD has played for every event team usa has participated in since he entered the league. If he feels like he needs to rest his body you should be able to respect that. And if you really think LeBron is even close to being as good of a person KD is then you are an idiot.

      • Grismare says

        You have no basis to think KD is a better person than LBJ. By all outside/external accounts, KD is a nice person, but so is Lebron. KD gets a pass because he is the second best player. LBJ doesn’t get a pss because he is the best player. Pretty simple.

    • JP says

      I’m from OK and a huge Thunder fan and Durant fan. But I love what you are saying about LBJ, all so true, he gets so much hate just for being great. And if he did cheated on his fiancé or quit team USA halfway through camp the world would go crazy on him.

  10. jerrytwenty-five says

    A little dramatic, but got to acknowledge Chris Sheridan for being the only one with courage to call Durant a Quiter, and that he didn’t do it for the reason stated. Clearly it was due to his personal commitments.

  11. Kevin says

    My issue with this column goes deeper than his erroneous and sloppy reporting on KD…who happens to be a model example of how we want our young superstars to carry themselves. God forbid he decided his body and mind couldn’t hold up a grind this hack writer, or anyone for that matter, could handle. Even if it was about the money, after he saw what happened to PG who could blame him for thinking about his future with more concern/caution. You say he shouldn’t have committed at all then…well I ask you when has ever said “No” in the past? Has ever turned down a media or NBA event, a community outing or appearance, or better yet, a previous USA basketball stint??? I think not.

    It’s very apparent this column is a joke. Every article Sheridan “writes” is a rambling, reach of a theory. The fact that he has now directed his attention to Jay-Z and blasted his and KD’s name proceeded with a # all over twitter should show the intent of these columns: fact-less link bait. He’s a hack “journalist” that reports from his couch. Find a time any of his “sources” have proved reliable or credible, better yet, find a quote from an actual NBA player…don’t worry I’ll wait. And he wonders why none of these guys will ever give him the time of day for an interview.

    Bottom line: my “sources” say he couldn’t cut it at ESPN so he has to come up with controversial, bullsh!t stories in the small hope of getting people to click a link. Joke.

    • Rob says

      I can send you a link. Multiple reporters and former players who were at the Las Vegas camp right before KD quit the USA basketball team said that after practice he was challenging any takers to 1on1 matches. This was after practice. This 1on1 stuff lasted close to an hour at high levels and they said, this is including rick berry, that durant showed no signs of fatigue. So this mind and body garbage needs to go away.

    • Neal says

      Agree. Mr. Sheridan, Rose has an endorsement from Adidas. So KD’s contract with Nike expired. So he is in negotiations with UA. He may still re-sign with Nike. Adidas is in the mix too. THESE ARE ALL STILL RUMORS PEOPLE!. So what your conspiracy theory says is that KD backed out because IF he decided not to re-sign with Nike, it causes a conflict. Why doesn’t it cause a conflict for Rose then? Athletes have a limited lifespan in which to earn. Their careers could also end suddenly or limit them significantly if injured. You being a sports writer should know that better. You think it is easy doing negotiations for an endorsement is as easy as chewing gum and walking in a park? Well that was a rhetorical question. You are bold but stupid way, in calling KD a quitter. Can you delve back into your own life and see if you’ve quit or withdrawn from a situation? But I also maintain that just as Sheridan is stupid to call KD a quitter based on his own nonsensical theories (and dragging Jay-Z into the picture), I would prefer that the other writers don’t get involved in this or justify KD’s withdrawal. KD know what’s best for himself and can fend for himself too. Another point Mr. Sheridan, if you are going to be bold, just do that but don’t blow your own toot and say you are the only one. Most times if you are the only one, your might want to check your “so called sources”! Also, I challenge you to write a public APOLOGY to KD if your sources prove wrong, that would be BEING BOLD (if you still have the Cojones).

  12. WLW says

    Anyone who watched KD valiantly and magnificently give his all during the 2013-2014 season would be aware that he needs a break. He DESERVES a break. First and formost his loyalty is to the Thunder. There will always be haters. SMDH

    • what says

      If he needed a break, he shouldnt have attended camp at all. Its not like this is his first time playing for USA and didnt know how much work it is. I understand that he played at MVP level last season and needs rest but he should have planned and handled his situation more professionally.

    • DJ Tanner says

      Alot of you bozos on here sound silly. Besides the fact that KD has played the most or 2nd most mins since 2010 is mute. Lets not even bring up the UA contract of 325 mil. How about the fact that its only the World Cup, not tje freaking Olympics. Yes he agreed to join USAB, a burden he put on himself but he also has the decision to back out at any time for any reason he wants. LET ALONE THE REASON BEING SEEING PG BONE POP OUT HIS LEG. He helped bring US gold before already. He served his country. Chris Sheridan sounds like he has a personal issue with Jayz because he told Durant dont jeopardize your future earnings on something u already proved…325 mil plus stakes in a company…plus playing championship caliber bball for OKC…Sheridan you’re a joke.

  13. JCF says

    This is indy journalism at its best. Mainstream columnists skirt around the facts and avoid editorial commentary that might step on the toes of big money corporate sponsors. To all the folks who say that KD acted in his own best interest, Sheridan’s column does not suggest that is untrue. It does call out that the manner in which it was done showed an underwhelming regard for personal and professional integrity. No one faults KD for chasing the money; the point is that doing so with professional integrity is not a mutually exclusive objective.

    • Marlon says

      What? That was pure bias writing. It’s like he wanted us to feel sorry for Nike and Gator are? BS reporting if you ask me, who cares if it ain’t a lock for the US team? That just means more exciting basketball and not one sided blowouts that pit people to sleep. That’s not the case tho, the team is still stacked compared to the other countries who only have 1 to 3 good players. These are NBA all stars no excuses cause of Durant, they should win anyways. Make your money Durant. Last thing, why would he care if Nike executives are on the trip over seas? Is he supposed to be afraid of executives? If Under Armour offered them 3 times the pay they would leave too! We all would leave our jobs to work in a rival company for 3 times more the pay.

  14. Spiros says

    They are an embarassment. Athletes should be mandated to represent their country. Instead they just care about their pockets. And people wonder why other countries have more national pride than the US. Because some athletes aren’t willing to sacrifice for their country. Paul George is a true hero for participating in spite of his accident. He should be praised more than other athletes like KD

    • Neal says

      Are you for real dude? Mandate? Do you live in the US of A? Sheridan is presenting his point of view and it is interesting. On the flip side the mainstream should not be the ones to defend KD. KD is standing up for himself. Questioning his integrity is deplorable Mr. Sheridan. Only KD knows why he chose to “withdraw”! Don’t be a conspiracy theorist. By being the only one to boldly write this piece, Mr. Sheridan, you aren’t landing a Pulitzer or for that matter a lifetime’s worth of sympathy supply from Nike and Gatorade either.

  15. Troy says

    There are right ways to do things, and wrong ways. Those of you defending Durant not playing need to realize that he went about it the wrong way. Just like LeBron had every right to sign with MIA, but The Decision was the wrong way to do it. LeBron learned and the announcement going back to CLE was done the right way. Hopefully Durant will learn without having the same backlash.

  16. Jacolby P. says

    It’s crazy how we expect athletes, or celebrities in general, to just give and give and give all of themselves to us and not consider the fact that they need a break too. Slightly after Lebron, KD has played the most basketball minutes of any player in the league since 2010. The dude DESERVES a break. I’m sure the percentage of ppl that are truly disappointed in his decision is very low. Team USA is stacked, especially at the guard position. They will easily when gold. They will do just fine without Durant. This article was a blatant reach. Besides, if any one of us had a $325 mil deal on the table we would need a whole year’s break to wrap our heads around that.

    • he says

      Everyone but an idiot knows he needs rest. KD knows better than anyone else he needs rest. The point is, he shouldnt even have attended USAB camp in the first place. A TRUE leader doesnt lead a team and then just bail out.

  17. says

    The guy writing this column is a idiot! I hope more and more pros turn down playing in the Olympics. There loyalty should be to their health and their NBA team.

  18. Justin says

    He’s smart for not playing. What about lebron and kevin love? Theyre gonna have the offseason to train and get ready for the season while kevin durant woulda been playing for team usa. maybe hes more concerned with winning a championship and if he played for usa, he’d be giving the cavs a head start. He already got a gold medal. he aint letting anybody down, we got handfuls of players ready to play for usa. Let him chase that championship

    • tom says

      Kid, true professionals have to ACT professional. Lebron and kevin love said no to USAB before it even started. KEVIN DURANT accepted the role and had the team build around him. Then, he QUIT. if he needed to rest his skinny legs , he should have shown RESPECT and not “lead” his team in the wrong direction.

      • Amitpal Bains says

        First off, kevin love quit during the training camps. Not before. Secondly, kevin durant thought he could play and be fine. He wasnt expecting to be extremely tired. About a year when players were being asked if they were going to play for team USA durant was the first to say yes. He loves team USA and just loves playing in general but he got tired. Durant had to carry a huge load this year and team usa would have been a big load to. Durant just hit the wall and couldn’t go on. That’s all there is. If you watched the scrimmage, durant looked tired. He was having a little difficulty getting past kenneth farried. He was just tired.

  19. Neal says

    Hey Chris. I usually agree with your comments, etc… regarding the NBA. But this time, I’ll take a pass. In my opinion your are absolutely wrong on this one, and I think its a shame that you feel it necessary to “shame” KD! Most NBA folks know Team USA has been running a game on NBA Players for two decades! Who cares about USA Basketball? Sure…”chumps and suckers” care, but why would a smart, veteran NBA Player care one iota about all that BS? What?…take a chance of injury?…possibly ruin your career for USA Basketball so they can millions? Come on, Chris – thought you were a lot smarter than that!

    • derrick says

      Chris is smarter than that. Hes not shaming kd for not playing, hes shaming him for acting the way he did. No reasonable person accepts a big job and the quits less than 3 months later.

    • sara says

      Neal, all NBA athletes understand the risk that comes with playing their sport. If kd was scared of getting hurt or whatever, he should have left usab earlier or not played at all.

      • Neal says

        We all “should have, could have” in some form or another in our lives. What KD decided was best for him. Not USA Basketball…NOT for YOU or anyone else…but for HIM. Doesn’t matter how and when he made his decision. Nobody is PERFECT. The important thing is, in my opinion, KD finally came out of the “ether”…told Team USA to “shove it” and looked out for his own best interests and his family. In other words, You don’t approve?…So what?…pay attention to your “own life” and leave KD to his.

  20. Christian Nelson says

    I am totally behind Kevin decision he needs to do what’s right his contract is up with the thunder after this season do what will he do after that but be needs to handles his business first before anything so whatever he do I’m right there along with it I’m a huge fan of Kevin durant even before he won the MVP nd scoring titles I love his game the way he plays I wanna be just like him

  21. Richard says

    Why should a guy put team usa in front of the well being and financial secuirity of him and his family.. Cmon sheridan get a life

  22. J King says

    Don’t know about the Jay-Z part in all your ramblings, but I agree. Withdrawing this far into the process is quitting, plain and simple! The decision KD made was his alone. Many years from now whether team USA wins gold or not, he will regret this decision. From a leadership position to dropout, I fear his career path will follow suit.

  23. Ridiculous says

    Some of the most biased journalism I have ever seen. Nike and Gatorade/Sparkling Ice are both business dealings. They have nothing to do with his mental and/or physical health. Durants first worry is his commitment to himself and what is body can handle, which he knows MUCH better than you mr. Sheridan. Who is to say he wouldn’t have made this exact decision with Goodwin?? You wouldn’t be writing this if it involved him instead of Jay-Z. Durante second commitment is to the team he is under contract with and they city that supports him everyday of his career. They have also been there with him since day 1 (before Nike as well since you brought that up) and he needs to be ready for that season. Is playing for USA an honor? 100% no argument it is! but that doesn’t mean in anyway it comes before mental/physical health. I know it is hard to believe but Elite athletes need breaks too.

    Faulting durant and his agency (SHOCKINGLY hired to make durant more money) for playing companies against each other is absolutely ridiculous. It happens every single day in the business world.

    Chris, get off your high horse and give your head a shake.

    • ridiculous? really? says

      What you said is absolutely true. Kevin durant knew all of those facts going into USAB. He “led” the team and then QUIT. Theres no question about it. But No one just joins the national team and chickens out right before the tournament. Kd should have either dedicated himself to USAB or just not shown up at all.

  24. Chris young says

    You guys need to relax. Like you said he has a few things to settle before the regular season, so he can 100 percent focus on playing as well as he can during the season. Do u think he is the first player to change agents or sponsors? The guy is going to do what’s best for him, and you can’t blame him for that.

  25. Cartis says

    Can’t really say quit, if i were around a lot of Nike execs/reps while possibly signing for a rival i’d feel uncomfy. You gotta see this through KD’s point of view instead of your own honestly.

  26. Max says

    Totally agree with you. I always liked the guy but all his whining about being number two and now doing this. Which is, well, just business.. Screw him. He doesn’t deserve to be number one.


  1. […] His sudden withdrawal from Team USA has whispers going that Durant and his new agency, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, are making power plays to increase Durant’s leverage for free agency in marketing, at least, and burning bridges with several of his former partners in business (via Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops): […]

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