With so much focus being fixed on the firing of Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson and the ever-unfolding Donald Sterling scandal, it’s refreshing to see the NBA rank-and-file giving due credit to Kevin Durant following his rousing MVP acceptance speech Tuesday afternoon.
Even if, like Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, they have a bit of fun at KD’s expense.
Doc Rivers playfully poking fun at the length of Durant's acceptance speech yesterday and how he thanked everyone.— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) May 8, 2014
We haven’t received an official time for Durant’s remarks—a touching affair in which everyone from Scott Brooks to the Oklahoma City Thunder training staff to KD’s mom was granted teary-eyed acknowledgment—but sources say it fell just short of the director’s cut of Lawrence of Arabia.
All ribbing aside, everyone, including Rivers, appreciated Durant’s speech for what it was: a genuine, heart-on-sleeve salvo from a player the NBA should feel proud has become one of its enduring generational icons.
Rivers then turned serious about the speech: "I thought it was great."— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) May 8, 2014
In fact, Rivers said he and the Clippers intend to be on the court when Durant officially accepts the award later Wednesday night and—Doc burn incoming!
Doc said Clippers will be on the court when KD gets his MVP: "It won't be long unless Kevin gives a long speech and thanks all the fans."— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) May 8, 2014
Come on, that’s a good one.
Obviously, the MVP trophy will mean precious little if OKC’s horrendous Game 1 performance proves a bellwether for its playoff fortunes.
Indeed, when all’s said and done, Durant wants what LeBron James has enjoyed these past two seasons: a pair of Larry O’Brien Trophies to accompany the mostly individual honor.
Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale highlighted just how high and hot the pressure is on the league’s newly minted MVP:
Durant is your league MVP. He is the closest thing to a peer James has. He has the makings of a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. And for the first time in roughly seven years, it's become clear he needs to become subject to the same pressure and inescapable expectations that come with said territory.
First, Durant and company must figure out a way to circumvent Rivers’ Clippers, who in Game 1 had the look—and more importantly, the attitude—of a team that expects to be playing well into June.
Durant struggled in the Thunder’s first-round win over the Memphis Grizzlies—a seven-game slugfest OKC very nearly squandered.
The Maurice Podoloff Trophy might technically denote a player’s regular-season accomplishments, but even Kevin Durant knows the only way to truly reinforce earning his first lies in bringing home the one with the golden ball.