Kevin Durant’s love for his mother is well known, if not legendary, from the praise he showered on her during his 2014 NBA MVP speech. Naturally, the feelings are mutual, and immediately after her son won his first NBA championship — earning Finals MVP honors in the process — Wanda Durant was right there to share her pride with the world.
“You did it!” she exclaimed to the eight-time all-star on the Oracle Arena court, following his Warriors’ title-clinching, 129-120 win over the Cavaliers. As was the case throughout the series, Durant was Golden State’s most unstoppable offensive force Monday, pouring in a team-high 39 points, to go with seven rebounds and five assists.
Not even an on-camera interview with ABC’s Doris Burke could stop Wanda Durant from expressing her love for her son, but first she had to get his undivided attention. In a moment to which many mothers could surely relate, she grabbed her son by his lengthy chin hair and told him, “Look at me! You did it.”
Then she kissed him on the cheek and said, “I’m proud of you.”
Durant had focused national attention on his mother in 2014, when he tearfully said to her, “You’re the real MVP,” in remarks he made while accepting the award.
“We weren’t supposed to be here. You made us believe,” he added. “You kept us off the street. 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.”
Wanda Durant had raised Kevin and his older brother, Tony, as a young, single mother in challenging conditions in Prince George’s County, Md. On Monday, after giving a shout-out to his old stomping grounds, Durant hoisted his trophy and happily told his mother, “We did it. I told you when I was eight years old — we did it.”
In the wake of Golden State’s defeat of Cleveland, it was no surprise to see Wanda Durant front and center with her boy, because she’s never stopped having his back. Earlier in the series, she appeared on ESPN’s “First Take” to take issue with Stephen A. Smith’s criticism of her son, including his comment that Durant’s offseason defection from the Thunder to the Warriors was “the weakest move I have ever seen by any superstar in any sport.”
“It’s like, ‘Who are you, Stephen A., to come at my boy like that?’ When he came to ESPN, was that a weak move for him?” she asked on the show. “He joined some more heavy hitters, right? To up his career, right? To do what was best for him. That’s what he did, right? No one called him weak for that. So why call me son weak for doing the same thing he did?”
In February, when Durant played his first game back in Oklahoma City this season, his mother resumed the position in the stands she had held for so many years, despite what was expected to be a newly hostile environment. Sure enough, Durant took plenty of heat from the crowd at the Thunder’s Chesapeake Energy Arena, and Wanda Durant was quick to express her unhappiness.
“The most vicious things you could say, they said about my son tonight. It’s hurtful,” she said at the time. “We poured our heart into this place. Not just him. Our family.”
Wanda Durant and her son found themselves in a much, much happier place Monday, one in which he could feel vindicated for his decision to join Golden State. He may have moved to a longtime rival and, in the process, altered the balance of power in the NBA, but he never lost his one, nurturing constant.
Now a motivational speaker who has trademarked the phrase, “The Real MVP,” and seen her story turned into a Lifetime movie, Wanda Durant tells of her struggles to raise two boys and help Kevin become an all-time great basketball player. “I would not allow him to quit,” she said in 2014, soon after his MVP speech. “There were times when he wanted to quit, but he couldn’t quit in the middle of a season. You had to finish what you started.”
In joining the Warriors, Durant started down a path that he knew could only lead to either an NBA title or increasingly pointed questions about his ability to ever win one. He finished that journey Monday in triumph, and his mother, with him as always, was there to share the emotion.