Last week Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder was awarded the Most Valuable Player trophy for the 2013-2014 NBA season. While Durant winning the MVP comes relatively unsurprising, winning a third straight scoring title, the humility and graciousness he exuded in his MVP speech was what rounded out his all-worldly form. Tearing up throughout the speech, Durant addressed God, his friends, family and teammates; giving genuine thanks and personal anecdotes for each.
It was telling when he addressed Caron Butler, his teammates of only a few months, that this was no ordinary cliche filled speech.
“Caron, even though you just got here a few months ago we’ve grown so close over these last few weeks and I can remember when you first got here you wrote a piece of paper in my locker … I don’t know why I’m crying so much, man … you wrote a piece of paper in my locker and it said, “KD MVP.” And that was after we lost two or three straight. I don’t really say much in those moments, but I remember that. I go home and I think about that stuff, man. When you got people behind you, you can do whatever. I thank you, man. I appreciate you.”
Yet, the longest and most endearing tribute went to the cornerstone of Kevin Durant’s life, his mother Wanda Pratt. Here is the full text:
I don’t think you know what you did. You had my brother when you were 18 years old. Three years later I came out. The odds were stacked against him. Single parent with two boys by the time you were 21 years old.”
“Everybody told us we weren’t supposed to be here. We moved from apartment to apartment by ourselves. One of the best memories I have is when we moved into our first apartment. No bed, no furniture, and we just all sat in the living room and hugged each other because we thought we made it.”
“When something good happens to you, I don’t know about you guys, but I tend to look back to what brought me here. You woke me up in the middle of the night in the summer times. Making me run up a hill. Making me do push-ups. Screaming at me from the sidelines at my games at eight or nine years old.
“We weren’t supposed to be here. You made us believe. You kept us off the street, 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.”
The tribute to his mother was heartfelt and moving. It was filled with a level of depth you don’t often hear in an acceptance speech for an award that recognizes an individual’s talent for achieving incredible results. Kevin Durant has always been known to be the humble, quiet superstar, fitting in with the modest Oklahoma City culture. Still, it is remarkable for a man with this much attention and gravitas worthy of celebrity icon status, at the top of his field, to express thanks to those closest to him in such a sincere, personal humble manner. There are few better ambassadors of the game than Kevin Durant, who set the example for what the game is all about and someone that can set a great example for kids and adults alike.
Only 25, KD has a lot left to prove. Yet, his words should stand as a seminal moment in NBA history, reflecting a man that merits the accomplishments of the individual while embodying the values of the selfless. The NBA is lucky to have an icon who continues to carry himself as man who only dreamed of growing up to be a recreation league coach.
If you havn’t seen it already, check out Kevin Durant’s full speech below in the video. It’s worth your time.