Founded in 1889, The Oklahoman is the largest daily newspaper in Oklahoma. But it took a lot of heat for its headline after Game 5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round Western Conference playoff series against Memphis when it came with this headline: “Mr. Unreliable.” It was in reference to Kevin Durant, who, of course, was named league MVP on Tuesday. In a 100-99 Game 5 loss to Memphis that gave the Grizzlies a 3-2 series lead, Durant scored 26 points, but shot just 10 of 24 from the field. An 88.2-percent career free-throw shooter, he made just 3 of 6 from the line.
The newspaper apologized for the headline, and it has redeemed itself the past two days with some real catchy ones. After Chris Paul made 8 of 9 3-pointers in the Clippers’ 122-105 Game 1 rout of OKC at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City on Monday in the Western Conference semifinals, the headline in the next day’s paper – “CPTHREE’D” – was awesome.
Then in Wednesday’s editions, the day after Durant gave a very warm speech thanking the organization, his teammates, coaches and especially his loved ones upon accepting his MVP award, the headline – “All in the family,” also was outstanding.
Kevin Durant on Tuesday received the MVP award for his terrific play during the regular NBA season. He gave a speech that will never be forgotten here in Oklahoma City, where Wednesday night Durant’s Thunder will host the Clippers in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinals series.
Durant talked about all of his teammates. One by one, he let them and the rest of the world know how he feels about them. He was as classy as classy can be.
He shared the love he has for his family. When he got to his mother, Wanda, he told her that she was “the real MVP” because of all she had done for him and his brother during some real rough times growing up, when she would go to bed hungry so her two sons wouldn’t have to.
During much of this heartfelt expression, Durant was moved to tears. In a day and age when such demonstrations are looked upon as maudlin because much of society has become hard and would rather hate than love, it was an absolute breath of fresh air.
Kudos to Durant.
By the time his address was over, one had to figure that Durant had pumped some adrenaline into his teammates, even if that wasn’t what he set out to do. It will be interesting to see if it will play a role in Wednesday’s game. The Thunder were routed by the Clippers in Game 1 Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. A loss in Game 2 would be devastating to OKC.
Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday was named Most Valuable Player in the NBA, the league announced.
Durant received 119 first-place votes and tallied 1,232 points from a panel of 124 voters consisting of sportswriters and broadcasters. An NBA.com MVP fan vote also was rendered, making for 125 total ballots. LeBron James (891 points, 6 first-place votes) of the Miami Heat was second and Blake Griffin of the Clippers (434 points) third.
Former NBA star and current TNT analyst Reggie Miller has a couple of thoughts regarding the Western Conference semifinals series between the Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder, which begins Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
Regarding Clippers post DeAndre Jordan, Miller said: “He is playing at an all-time high level for (coach) Doc Rivers after being slighted for Defensive Player of the Year. He is showing how important his defense is for the Clippers.”
Jordan finished third in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year.
As for OKC’s Kevin Durant, Miller alluded to the headline “Mr. Unreliable” printed by the Oklahoman ahead of the Thunder’s Game 7 victory over Memphis, in which Durant scored 33 points.
“The Oklahoman newspaper headline was probably the best thing to happen to KD – it woke him up,” Miller said. ‘Mr. Reliable’ will show why he will earn his first MVP title.”
Coach Doc Rivers on Wednesday night was asked about the MVP race. His reply was only partially surprising.
“I think (Kevin) Durant’s had the best year,” Rivers said of the Oklahoma City star. “I still think LeBron (James) is the best player in the NBA, but I think Durant has had an MVP year. I really believe that. I don’t know who has had a better year. And I honestly think Blake would be right behind him, in my opinion, but I don’t think I have a vote.”
Blake Griffin could finish third in the voting, but Durant and James figure to be first and second one way or the other.
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant said the other day he wished his streak of scoring at least 25 points in a game would end. He got his wish Tuesday when he scored 23 points in the Thunder’s 107-92 victory at Sacramento.
Durant played 31 minutes. His streak ended at a record 41 (since the 3-pointer was instituted) consecutive games. (Oscar Robertson had a streak of 46 in 1963-64 and Wilt Chamberlain had one of 80 in 1961-62, according to ESPN.com).
Oklahoma City (56-21) will now bring a lead of 1 1/2 games over the Clippers in the race for the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference standings when it visits Staples Center on Wednesday night to take on the Clippers (55-23).