NBA NEWS

Warriors’ Durant adds an important title: Champion!

Sports Xchange

June 12, 2017 at 11:32 pm.

Jun 12, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates after winning the NBA Fianls MVP in game five of the 2017 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 12, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates after winning the NBA Fianls MVP in game five of the 2017 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

OAKLAND, Calif. — In the end, he was outscored, outrebounded and out-assisted by LeBron James.

But in the featured matchup of the NBA Finals, Kevin Durant had his rival in the only area he cared about: wins.

Durant took home a championship and a Finals Most Valuable Player award Monday night by adding to the Golden State Warriors’ strength in numbers that overpowered James’ strength in statistics.

“It’s a team sport,” Durant insisted after the Warriors had closed out James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 129-120 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to win the best-of-seven series 4-1. “You got to want to put your teammates in front of yourself sometimes. And I just tried to do that, but also be aggressive.

“Andre (Iguodala) told me all the time: ‘It is your time. Go take it. It’s about you.’ But I’m like, ‘No. It’s about us.’ But I’m still going to be me.”

Durant entered the NBA Finals as an eight-time All-Star, an All-Star Game MVP and an NBA MVP.

After shooting 55.6 percent and contributing 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists to the five-game domination, he now has a new title.

Champion.

“You got to call Kevin Durant a champ now,” sidekick Stephen Curry said. “He’s put the time in and I’m just so happy for him to be able to realize his goal and be my teammate.”

When it came time to reflect on the series, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue pointed to the final 2:13 of Game 3 as the difference. Durant was front and center in that turnaround, hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer to provide the signature moment of the Warriors rally — and the series as a whole — in an 11-0 finish.

Durant refused to celebrate until the final seconds Monday.

“It was 55 seconds left,” he noted, “and I bent down, and I’m like, ‘Is this really happening?’ And Draymond (Green) was like, ‘Keep playing to the end.’ Andre is like, ‘Keep playing.’ We have like 50 seconds left. And I’m like, ‘Bro, we’re about to win the title.’

“We did it together.”

Durant was on the court for 40-plus minutes in the finale, most of the time staring down James.

Neither recorded a personal knockout, and each walked away with even greater respect for the other than they had 12 days earlier.

“I’m not happy he won his first. I’m not happy at all,” said James, the first player in NBA Finals history to average a triple-double. “But at the end of the day from when I played him in the 2012 Finals to now, experience is the best teacher in life, and he’s just experiencing and experiencing and experiencing.

“Getting that first championship for me was like having my first son. It was just a proud moment, something that you never, ever forget. No matter what anybody says from now on in your career, they can never take away from you being a champion.”

History will always note that Durant’s first championship came against James.

“To go up against somebody I view as like a rival, personally, is an amazing feeling to beat him,” Durant claimed. “But one thing I know about LeBron James, though, he’ll probably be back in the gym the start of July getting ready for next season.

“So I probably got to beat him in the gym. I got nothing but love and respect for him, and I can’t wait to compete against him again next season.”

 

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