Monday, July 15, 2024

Kevin Durant On Why He’s Fine With Caitlin Clark Missing The Olympics

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Caitlin Clark didn’t make the USA Basketball Women’s roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The news surfaced nearly two weeks ago, but people are still fixated on it — read: outraged by it — because it’s Caitlin Clark, and people love to sensationalize anything involving the Indiana Fever’s stellar rookie.

Kevin Durant is the latest to enter the discourse, but only because he was directly asked about it by The Wall Street Journal‘s Emma Tucker at Cannes Lions 2024.

“I still think it’s proper steps you gotta take in our world to be considered an Olympian,” Durant said around the seven-minute mark of the 34-minute conversation. “I think she’s gonna definitely be on one of these teams going forward, but right now, there was better candidates out there, I think.”

The 2024 USA Basketball Women’s Olympic Team will be Napheesa Collier, Kahleah Copper, Chelsea Gray, Brittney Griner, Sabrina Ionescu, Jewell Loyd, Kelsey Plum, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi, Alyssa Thomas, A’ja Wilson, and Jackie Young. Head coach Cheryl Reeve will look to guide the program to its eighth-straight Olympic gold medal. Meanwhile, Durant will make the trip to Paris to represent USA Basketball for a fourth consecutive Olympics, as the men seek their fifth-straight gold.

To Durant’s point, a subset of women’s basketball fans were upset that Arike Ogunbowale missed the cut, despite starting the 2024 WNBA season by recording at least 20 points in each of the first 11 games. However, Ogunbowale revealed on Nightcap with Shannon Sharpe, Ochocinco, and Gilbert Arenas that she had withdrawn her name from the Olympic pool “months ago” because of how subjective it is.

Clark’s fervent fan base was very upset that she didn’t make the team for too many reasons to list out here, but a through line in the outrage was the belief that nobody would watch the USA Basketball Women’s team compete without her because Clark drives ratings.

On June 11, USA Basketball Selection Committee Chair Jen Rizzotti explained “the basketball criteria” involved in finalizing the roster.

“When you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes,” Rizzotti told The Associated Press. Rizzotti additionally noted that choosing a player can depend on “position, style of play for [Reeve], and then sometimes a vote.”

Rizzotti emphasized, “It would be irresponsible for us to talk about her in a way other than how she would impact the play of the team. Because it wasn’t the purview of our committee to decide how many people would watch or how many people would root for the U.S. It was our purview to create the best team we could for Cheryl.”

Clark gracefully addressed missing the squad, acknowledging that “it’s the most competitive team in the world” and clarifying that she wasn’t disappointed because “it just gives you something to work for.”

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