Kevin Durant named NBA Most Valuable Player
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, the NBA's top scorer for the fourth time in five seasons, was named Tuesday as the league's Most Valuable Player for the 2013-14 campaign
New York: Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, the NBA's top scorer for the fourth time in five seasons, was named Tuesday as the league's Most Valuable Player for the 2013-14 campaign.
It's the first MVP award for the Thunder superstar, who received 1,232 points in balloting for the MVP award.
That included 119 first-place votes from a panel of 124 voters that consisted of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada as well as an NBA.com MVP fan vote.
Miami's LeBron James, winner of the last two MVP awards and four of the last five, finished second in the voting with 891 points and six first-place ballots.
As reports spread on Monday that Durant would shortly be named MVP, James offered his congratulations.
"Much respect to him," James said. "He deserves it. He had a big-time MVP season."
Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers was third with 434 points, Chicago's Joakim Noah fourth on 322 and Houston's James Harden fifth on 85.
Durant, 25, averaged a career-best 32.0 points per game and averaged a career-high 5.5 assists and 7.4 rebounds a game. Only Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor had such high marks in each category in a single NBA season.
"He is self-motivated," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He's a tremendous kid that does everything for his team. We are proud of him because he gives everything he has. He does it every night and his consistency is remarkable."
With four career season scoring titles, Durant matched Allen Iverson and George Gervin for third on the all-time list, trailing only Jordan's 10 and seven by Chamberlain.
Durant shot better than 50 percent for a second consecutive season and 39.1 percent from three-point range. His 703 free throws made from 805 attempted were both league highs, giving him an 87.3 percent success rate from the line.
He led Oklahoma City to 59 regular-season victories and the second seed in the Western Conference behind San Antonio, even though star teammate Russell Westbrook missed almost half of the season.
"It's his leadership," teammate Serge Ibaka said. "I saw it when Russell was out. He was able to keep the team up, not only on offense, but he has been getting better on defense too. He has been rebounding the ball, he has been passing the ball really well in the regular season.
"That type of stuff made him a different player this season."
During the regular season, Durant put together a streak of 41 games in a row with 25 points or more, surpassing Jordan's 40-game run for the third-longest such streak in NBA history.
And he came through when it mattered, leading all players this season in "clutch points" -- points scored in the final five minutes of a game when five points or less separated the contestants.
Durant became the first player in the history of the franchise, which began as the Seattle Supersonics, to claim the MVP honor. Durant has been active in the team's community outreach efforts as well as a star on the floor.
"To have someone like that in our organization, but also in our community is a great, great thing," Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. "It's certainly not something to be taken for granted."