Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder could use something to cheer about. After getting blown out last night by the Los Angeles Clippers in game 1 of the West Conference semifinals, the moral for the Thunder has to be low. Cue the silver lining. The NBA announced this morning that Durant will be named the league’s Most Valuable Player for the first time in his career, receiving 119 of the 125 first place votes. The 25-year-old averaged a career-high 32 points per game on 50% shooting, while leading the Thunder to a 59-23 record in a tough Western Conference.
Durant described winning the MVP award as a “surreal feeling”, and thanked his teammates during his press conference held earlier today.
This has to feel like a weight is being lifted on Durant’s shoulders, as he has finished second to Miami Heat forward LeBron James in the MVP voting the past two years. Durant has voiced his frustration about finishing second to James in the MVP voting, and also in the 2012 NBA finals.
Even with his gaudy numbers, which included a ludicrous 41 straight games with 25 or more points, he was criticized for his poor shooting numbers in the thunder’s first round matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies. Durant shot 40% for the first five games, and OKC went down 3-2 in the series, promoting the Oklahoman to put the headline “Mr. Unreliable” on their front page before game six.
Durant responded as only an MVP could. He scored 69 points in the final two games of the series, giving the Thunder a 4-3 series win, and erasing all doubt about whether or not he was reliable.
Now Durant faces an even tougher test in an offensively loaded Clippers team that is playing motivated basketball out of the shadow of the Donald Sterling incident. Down 1-0 in the series, the Washington D.C. native has an uphill battle ahead of him. But if there is one person to bet on, it’s your 2013-14 NBA MVP- Kevin Durant