Durant's MVP Speech Proves Humility & Greatness Aren't Mutually Exclusive
Kevin Durant wasn't supposed to be here.
"I come from a small county outside of Washington, D.C." Durant explained as he stood at the podium on Monday afternoon to accept his first NBA MVP award. "Me, my mom, my brother, we moved so many places growing up and it felt like a box; it felt like there was no getting out."
The 25-year-old superstar has ascended to historical greatness, but he traveled a long and difficult road to get to that podium.
At the end of his acceptance speech, a teary-eyed Durant addressed his mom, Wanda Pratt, in a moving monologue that explained thoroughly the struggles of which Durant and his family endured.
"I don't think you knew what you did," Durant told his mom. "You had my brother when you were 18 years old. Three years later, I came out. The odds were stacked against us. Single parent with two boys by the time you were 21 years old. Everybody told us we wasn't supposed to be here."
At such a young age, Durant already gets it. The MVP trophy will have his name on it, but it's not all about him. He began his speech with recognizable humility and maintained it throughout.
"First off I'd like to thank God for changing my life, letting me really realize what life is all about," Durant said. "Basketball is just a platform in order for me to inspire people, and I realize that."
There's plenty that Durant could have chosen to discuss about his incredible season.
He could have talked about his streak of scoring 25 or more points in 41 straight games, eclipsing Michael Jordan's modern-day record.
He could have discussed how he became only the fifth player in NBA history to win four or more scoring titles.
He could have addressed how he became just third player in NBA history to lead the league in scoring for five straight seasons, joining Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
But he touched on none of that.
Instead, Durant jokingly ribbed Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka for their English-speaking skills. He had a laugh with Kendrick Perkins about how Durant didn't like Perk before the Thunder acquired him from the Celtics. He also thanked every single teammate, one by one, for how they've helped him get this far.
He thanked Scott Brooks, telling his coach "I love you" and "You don't take the credit for nothin', even though you deserve all of it."
He thanked owner Clay Bennett, GM Sam Presti and assistant GM Troy Weaver. He thanked his grandma for "picking me up from school when I was a kid, fixing me peanut butter & jelly sandwiches every day."
He thanked the Thunder fans, praising them as the league's finest.
"(To) the beautiful fans of Oklahoma City, I can't say enough about you guys, Durant exclaimed with a smile. "All the support you give our team, the home-court advantage we have is the best I've ever seen. We wanna win a championship for you guys."
And of course, he thanked his mom – for everything.
"You wake me up in the middle of the night in the summertimes, making me run up a hill, making me do pushups, screaming at me from the sidelines of my games at eight or nine years old," Durant recalled as an emotional Pratt looked on, smiling and crying at the same time.
"We wasn't supposed to be here. You made us believe, you kept us off the street, you put clothes on our backs, food on the table, when you didn't eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry, you sacrificed for us. You're the real MVP."
Kevin Durant wasn't supposed to be here – but here he is. OKC's Most Valuable Player and perhaps Most Valuable Person.