CLEVELAND (AP) — Kevin Durant went back-to-back, twice.
It’s now two straight NBA championships for the Golden State Warriors, and two consecutive NBA Finals MVP awards for the forward who played a huge role in getting them to those titles.
Durant scored 20 points in the Game 4 clincher Friday night, a 108-85 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers — but his series will be remembered most for what he did in Game 3. Durant scored 43 points in that game, including a 33-foot 3-pointer in the final minute to all but clinch the win for the Warriors.
Durant averaged 28.8 points in the series, along with 10.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists.
“It’s just about the journey, all season,” Durant said. “Getting up every day, going to work with these guys, it’s amazing. The environment is incredible. It’s good for you to be around guys like this. It helps you become a better basketball player and a better man.”
Durant becomes the 11th player to win Finals MVP twice, joining six-time winner Michael Jordan, three-timers Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan and LeBron James, and two-timers Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Willis Reed and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
He’s also the sixth player to win it in consecutive years, with Jordan, O’Neal, James, Olajuwon and Bryant being the others.
Since 2009 the award has been named for Celtics legend Bill Russell, the 11-time champion who surely would have won the award several times if it existed in his playing days. The Finals MVP was first handed out in 1974.
Durant is one of 30 players to win the award.