Kevin Durant: On the day the NBA named him its MVP, the Thunder star provided a glimpse into his leadership style

COMMENTARY — On the day Kevin Durant was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, his humanity upstaged his coronation.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 6, 2014

A sampling:

On Perkins, Durant’s voice cracking by the end: “I hated you before you got here. But the moment you got here, changed my whole perception. One of the best teammates I ever had. Late night calls after tough games. You texting me, telling me I’m the MVP.”

On Butler’s slip of paper: “I don’t really say much in those moments, but I remember that. I go home and think about that stuff. Man, I’ve got people behind me … I love you man.”

And on Westbrook, who he saved for last: “I know you guys think I forgot Russ. I can speak all night about Russell. An emotional guy who will run through a wall for me. And I don’t take it for granted. I want to just tackle you and tell you to snap out of it sometimes, but I know there’s days you want to do the same thing with me. I love you man. I love you. A lot of people put unfair criticism on you as a player. I’m the first to have your back through it all. Just stay the person you are. Everybody loves you here. I love you and I thank you so much … You had a big piece of this. You’re an MVP-caliber player. It’s a blessing to play with you, man.”

Collison, Durant’s longest-standing teammate, said he thought the day was “great … it’s not necessarily surprising that he would want to mention his teammates, because we all know him.

“We get caught up in the day to day, but it was a real nice moment for the team. Brought back a lot of memories for me, how far we’ve come as a team and how far he’s come as a person.”

The NBA awards season comes at a strange time. Right in the middle of the playoffs. The Thunder hosts a huge game against the Clippers on Wednesday night. For an honor like MVP, a day between games becomes a huge time commitment, with pomp and circumstance. The very definition of distraction.

Except Durant turned a trophy presentation into a bonding experience. He brought a close team even closer. He offered a glimpse into the kind of leadership he provides the Thunder.

I don’t know if peeling back that veil will help the Thunder in Game 2 Wednesday night. But I know this. If the Clippers are able to construct a wall, Kevin Durant won’t be trying to run through it alone.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at . He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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