OAKLAND, Calif. — Kevin Durant was named winner of the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award for leading the Warriors to the 2017 championship.
The 28-year-old forward scored 39 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists in Monday night’s series-clinching 129-120 win at Oracle Arena to wrap up a 4-1 series win over LeBron James and the defending champion Cavaliers.
Durant, who moved from the Oklahoma City Thunder to Golden State as a free agent last summer, was the Warriors’ top scorer in every game of The Finals, averaging 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists, while shooting 60 of 102 (.588) from the field.
“I couldn’t sleep for two days,” Durant said. “I was anxious. I was jittery. I put in all the work and had to trust in it.”
Established in the 1969 NBA Finals, the award is decided by a panel of 11 media members and has been given to 31 different players.
Durant was a unanimous pick.Durant, finishing his 10th pro season, made himself the favorite for the award when he scored 14 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter of Game 3 when the Warriors closed the game on an 11-0 run.
When James scored with 11:34 left in the game, the Cavaliers had cut a 17-point deficit down to 98-95. But Durant came right back with a 17-footer from the wing and slammed the door by hitting 5-for-7 and scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter of in Game 5 to join Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal as the only players ever to score 25 or more points in their first 10 Finals games.
After losing to James and the Miami Heat in the 2012 Finals when he was with the Thunder, Durant finally got his own rise to the top.
“I told (James) that we’re tied up now (at 1-1 in the Finals) and that we’ll have to do this again,” Durant said.
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