Life Written.

Kevin Durant: Valuable Lessons from the NBA’s Most Valuable Player
Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo

Basketball is the best. Naturally, from Dallas, I latched onto the Dallas Mavericks at my favorite NBA team. Unfortunately, after the Mavs peaked around 2012 {post championship win}, I adopted the Oklahoma City Thunder as my new team.

Kevin Durant, the power forward for the young OKC team, was named this year’s Most Valuable Player. And his speech is phenomenal {see condensed version here}.

While Durant’s faith is his own, and his relationship with God remains private and I don’t dare to idolize him or twist his words/intentions/beliefs, I think his speech delivers themes of incredible humility, loyalty, and wisdom.

Here are a few things I picked up:

  • God first. “First off, I’d like to thank God for changing my life.
  • God first. Even when you are NBA MVP. “Basketball is a platform for me to inspire people. And I realize that.” Durant utilizes his position in the limelight as a player, his position as a leader on his team, as a means to glorify God. While I am sure it is hard to remember, it seems he knows very well his priorities in life
  • Have fun. He fell in love with basketball. He just so happened to make it his career somewhere along the way. He used to just want to stay home and be a rec league coach.
  • Helpful friends help.  Tell your friends you love them and why. Because that is a sweet thing to do, and they probably don’t hear it enough.
  • “There is never a point to stop getting better”: To Derek Fisher {PG}, a veteran at 39 who joined the team recently, he said “you always want to learn even though you have done so much in this league.”
  • Don’t judge, they may be your teammate one day: To Fisher, “I hated you before you got here,” but then his “whole perception” was changed.
  • It’s okay to cry, even if you’re a guy. “I don’t know why I’m crying so much, man!”
  • Be the example AND know you will mess up, just be humble. “I know I set the example. I have my bad days,” Durant said. He says he is not always the best leader, player.
  • Follow your followers. “As much as you think I make you better, you elevate my game.”
  • Sometimes we stink, just embrace our off days. To Russell Westbrook, PG: “I want to tackle you and tell you to snap out of it…but there are days you want to do that to me.”
  • Have faith in your leader. To Clay Bennett, owner: “If you are behind us, we can do it all.”
  • Give credit where it’s due. To the coaches and staff, he says:

“I wish I had a sharpie so I could write all your names on here, because you had a hand in this. You made me a better person, a better player. Your words of encouragement, your love, your positivity. It got me through. Thank you guys.”

  • Be blessed by those who mold you. Value their input, training, mentoring, and time they give to you.

” I know there’s days you look at that film and you want to kill me. I’m not playing defense, taking bad shots, getting too many techs. But you always believe that I can be the guy.”

  • Basketball is just a game, just a job.The staff help him grow as “a man first and a basketball player next.”
  • Be the follower. To his older brother Tony, “I always wanted to follow in your footsteps.”
  • Know who is looking up to you. To his little brother Rayvonne, “I always wanted to set an example for you.”
  • Life is hard, you will have to make sacrifices down the road. The last few minutes of the speech, Durant thanks his mother. She was a single mom of two at 21. She “kept us off the street,” and gave her all so her children could have a future.

“We weren’t supposed to be here. You made us believe, you kept us off the street. You put clothes on our backs, food on the table. When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us.You’re the real MVP.”

And that, my friends, is why I love Kevin Durant. Classy, Christian, humble, talented man.

I know Durant wants to win tonight, the Spurs {blech, raised loving the Mavs and now Thunder} have a chance to advance to the finals.

And I am sure both teams are excited and nervous, but it doesn’t matter who wins. Because a game is a game. And the finals happen every year. And if the Thunder lose, they are still great players. If the Thunder win, they 1) make the Western Conference Finals more exciting and 2) are still great players.

So let’s have fun, and remember Durant’s opener and closer: God first and last. Basketball is just a platform.

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