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Colangelo: Kevin Durant’s ‘love of game’ driving Olympic dream, recruitment

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Basketball - Olympics: Day 16 Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

In a Zoom call with Olympic media and in comments to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, USA Basketball Managing Director Jerry Colangelo says Kevin Durant has already shown leadership both by example ... and in recruiting other NBA stars to The Games. The Team USA roster was finalized Monday.

“He’s always had that real enthusiasm for playing USA basketball,” Colangelo said. “He’s been a real warrior and love him as a player and person. The fact he stepped up as he did to commit himself didn’t surprise me. I was very, very pleased. He’s a very important part of our potential success. His leadership is important.’’

Durant will be going for his third Olympic gold medal, having won in both London (2012) and Rio de Janiero (2016). Should Team USA be on medal stand August 6, KD would become second American to win three golds, joining Carmelo Anthony who will not be going to Tokyo. And once he scores 25 points, KD will surpass Anthony in the all-time Team USA scoring.

Colangelo said Durant’s decision to play in the pandemic-delayed Olympics was selfless.

“Not sure if it helps him in his career next season that comes out of this experience,’’ Colangelo said. “What it is, is a love for a game and fulfill a continuing dream of being on that court and playing for all the marbles and playing for a gold medal. That’s the competitiveness in him. If you can raise his competitiveness more than it is today, that’s incredible.’’

In talking to Windhorst, Colangelo said Durant — along Damian Lillard — had played a big role in recruiting NBA stars to the team, which will be going for its fourth straight gold.

“When we talk to players about committing to the team, one of the things they always want to know is who else is committed,” Colangelo told Windhorst.

According to Windhorst, Draymond Green, Bradley Beal and Jerami Grant were among the players who made the final Team USA roster whom Lillard and Durant had a hand in recruiting.

“He’s had a lot of great success with USA Basketball, and I think playing in Tokyo was something he really wanted,” Colangelo told Windhorst about Durant’s commitment.

Team USA opens training camp in Las Vegas on July 6 with the first exhibition game scheduled for July 10 vs. Nigeria, also in Las Vegas. France will be the Americans’ first competition in Tokyo on July 25.