Last week, with the basketball world watching, Kevin Durant delivered a beautiful, gratitude-filled MVP speech dedicated to his mother, with kind words also for his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates and coaches. The 25-year-old superstar had been nipping at the heels of two-time reigning NBA MVP LeBron James, and finally broke thorough, receiving 119 first-place votes. LeBron, meanwhile, finished second with just six first-place votes. Durant, who averaged 32 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game, is the first player to win both the scoring title and the MVP award in the same season since Allen Iverson during the 2000-01 season. But it wasn't Durant's stats that were winning him new admirers last week; it was the way he modestly and genuinely paid tribute the people in his life who made a difference in his journey to the top. Here are 5 truths about success that Durant touched on in his memorable speech.
Nobody Succeeds Alone
Durant and his brother were raised by a single mother, Wanda Pratt, in a Washington, D.C., suburb. She worked as a Postal Service mail handler and wanted desperately for her sons to one day have a better life, free of hardship.
"You sacrificed for us. You're the real MVP," Durant said to her. "Single parent with two boys by the time you were 21 years old. Everybody told us we weren't supposed to be here. We moved from apartment to apartment by ourselves. One of the best memories I had was when we moved into our first apartment. No bed, no furniture, and we just all sat in a room and just hugged each other. We thought we'd made it."
Success Often Grows Out Of Frustration And Failure
Early on his high school career, Durant grew extremely frustrated with the lack of attention garnered by college coaches and recruiters. At one point, he was seriously debating quitting basketball all together and even considering street life, but said his mother saved him.
"You kept us off the street," he said. "You put clothes on our backs. You put food on the table. When you didn't eat, you made sure we ate and [you] went to sleep hungry."
Individual Success Is Built On Teamwork
Durant expressed gratitude to his Thunder teammates and coaches as well. Perhaps most importantly, he made it a point to mention the talented, but also embattled point guard, Russell Westbrook.
"You got a big piece of this," he said. "You're an MVP-caliber player. It's a blessing to play with you."
Savoring Success Means Not Always Looking Ahead To The Next Big Thing
Durant will become a free agent in 2016, and despite last week's "Mr. Unreliable" headline in the local paper, he seems content to remain in Oklahoma City. "This is the perfect place for me," he said. In other words, Thunder fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
Four-time NBA champion and former MVP Shaquille O'Neal couldn't help but be moved by Durant's speech.
"It was very touching," O'Neal told The Huffington Post. "Most young African-Americans -- we have similar stories ... it was a speech that will always be remembered."
Healthy Competition Can Aid Success
Over the past three seasons, the league's MVP award has essentially morphed into a two-man race: Durant and LeBron. In fact, the two have even trained together during the offseason, in addition playing together on Team USA.
In his speech, Durant paid his rival perhaps the ultimate compliment: "[James] definitely drives me and pushes me to reach [a higher] level as a player."
Email me at email@example.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report and follow me on Instagram @Schultz_Report. Also, be sure and catch my NBC Sports Radio show, Kup and Schultz, which airs Sunday mornings from 9-12 ET, right here.