OKLAHOMA CITY — Earlier this season Kevin Durant made a declaration. The Oklahoma City Thunder star was tired of settling for second place. Whether it was being seen as the league’s best player or in trying to win championships, he wanted to be done with the runner-up tag.
When he made the statement, it was seen out of character to many outside his inner circle. With such a low-key manner and disposition, he sometimes comes off as aloof and unemotional.
That was not the case Tuesday when Durant was officially named the 2013-14 NBA MVP. Often cool and composed, Durant didn’t hold anything back as he cried, laughed and inspired in describing his journey.
“I grew up in a county outside Washington D.C. called Prince George,” Durant said. “Me, my mom, my brother, we moved to many different places. It felt like a box. It felt like there was no getting out. My dream was to become a rec. league coach. I love basketball so much. I love playing it. I just never thought I’d make it to college, the NBA. Never thought I stand in front of you guys today and be NBA MVP. It’s a surreal feeling.”
Despite being a five-time NBA All-Star, four-time All-NBA First Team selection and four-time NBA scoring champion, it’s the first time he has claimed the league’s top individual prize. He understood he had to make changes in his life if he was going to reach his goal.
“This is the first year where I played basketball when I didn’t put basketball first,” Durant said. “I put being a man first and basketball got better as the year went along. I realized what life is all about.”
The MVP voters left no room for argument on who they felt was the best player in the land this regular season. Durant racked up 119 of the 125 possible first place votes. Last year’s winner, LeBron James, garnered the other six.