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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.