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« on: July 31, 2014, 03:11:28 am »

OKLAHOMA CITY -- In accepting his first MVP award, Oklahoma Citys Kevin Durant made a point of sharing the honour with those who made it possible. In a soul-baring speech that lasted more than 25 minutes, Durant fought back tears several times while thanking each of his teammates, the coaches, support staff and team executives, and finally his family. The emotional outpouring culminated with a tribute to his mother, Wanda Pratt, and the sacrifices she made, the inspiration she provided while raising Durant and his brother in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. "You made us believe," Durant said to Pratt, who was at the ceremony in Edmond, Oklahoma. "Kept us off the street. Put clothes on our backs, food on the table. When you didnt eat, you made sure we ate. You sacrificed for us. Youre the real MVP." Durant explained that Pratt was a single mother with two boys, and though times were tough while growing up, Pratt always thought something better was ahead. Durant said to appreciate moments like these, he often looks back to gain perspective. "One of the best memories I had is when we moved into our first apartment," he said as tears streamed down Pratts face. "No bed, no furniture, and we just all sat in the living room and hugged each other, cause thats when we all thought we made it." Hes really made it now. The young man who said he was told he "wasnt supposed to be here" won the NBAs top individual honour Tuesday, receiving 119 first-place votes. Miamis LeBron James, who had won the last two MVP awards and four of the previous five, finished second with six first-place votes, and Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers was third. Durant, 25, called it "surreal" and at one point, as he thanked his teammates, he stopped and said, "I dont know why Im crying so much." "Everything in my life, I had to take it," Durant said. "Theyre not going to give it to you out of sympathy. I wouldnt want it any other way. This was another case, if I wanted to win the MVP, I had to go take it. I felt that this was the year I did that." During a speech in which Durant revealed a humility and vulnerability rarely displayed by a professional athlete, he also drew some laughs. "I could walk in and have a terrible day and I could see Hasheem (Thabeet) smiling at me, at 7-foot-3 with small pants on," he said. "That would change my day." Durant mentioned qualities about each teammate, showing respect for the veterans who challenge him and the rookies who inspire him to do things the right way because they look up to him. "I go home and I think about that stuff, man," he said. "When youve got people behind you, you can do whatever." Durant won his fourth scoring crown in five years by averaging 32 points. The 6-foot-9 forward helped the Thunder go 59-23, second-best in the league, despite playing much of the season without three-time All-Star Russell Westbrook because of a nagging knee injury. "Hes basically put himself in front of everybody else in the league and shown that hes the best player in the world," Westbrook said at the end of the regular season. James agreed, saying Monday: "Much respect to him and he deserves it. He had a big-time MVP season." Durants run of 41 consecutive games this season with at least 25 points was the third-longest streak in NBA history. "It was a two-man race, and then toward the end, it was kind of a no-brainer," Griffin said. James averaged 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists while shooting nearly 57 per cent from the field. Griffin averaged 24.1 points and 10.1 rebounds. Durant scored at least 40 points 14 times. He also averaged 7.4 rebounds and a career-high 5.5 assists while shooting 50 per cent from the field. While Westbrook was out after his most recent knee surgery, Durant averaged 35 points and 6.3 assists as the Thunder went 20-7 and remained among the leagues elite. Teammates and opponents say Durant became a more complete player this season. They praised him for improving his court vision, consistently making the extra pass and moving more efficiently without the ball. "I think we take it for granted," teammate Nick Collison said. "To be able to stay on for long periods of time -- have to cut hard, catch the ball in the right spot and defend on the other end -- is tough to do. To be able to show that shows that he has an edge to him. He doesnt take a night off." Though Durants consistency stood out this season, he had several exceptional games. He scored 48 points on Jan. 4 at Minnesota, then scored 48 again two games later at Utah. He scored a career-high 54 points in a home win against Golden State on Jan. 17 and two games later scored 46 at home in a victory against Portland. Two games after that, he had a triple-double -- 32 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists -- in a win at Philadelphia, and he followed that with 41 points in a victory over Atlanta. He scored 51 points at Toronto on March 21 in a staggering 53 minutes and hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left in double overtime. He capped it off in the season finale by scoring 21 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter against Detroit and winning the game with a dunk with 16.5 seconds left. The Thunder overcame a 10-point deficit in the quarter to clinch the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. "I put in so much work and so many people helped me," he said. "I feel like we all won it. Our equipment guy gave me a hug today and said, This is my first MVP, and I thought about that. And I said, Yeah, this is our first MVP. I couldnt have done it without the teammates, without the trainer. Everybody. We all just did this together." <a href="http://www.cheapauthenticjerseyschina.net/">cheapauthenticjerseyschina.net</a>. 1 draft picks on their roster but its a former St. <a href="http://www.cheapauthenticjerseyschina.net/nike-nfl-jerseys-china_arizona-cardinals-jersey-china/">Cheap Arizona Cardinals Jerseys</a>. Canadian midfielder and Winnipeg native Desiree Scott is thrilled the team will play in her hometown for the first time since 1990. "Im beyond excited," she said. <a href="http://www.cheapauthenticjerseyschina.net/mlb-jerseys-china_los-angeles-dodgers-jersey-china/">http://www.cheapauthenticjerseyschina.net/mlb-jerseys-china_los-angeles-dodgers-jersey-china/</a>. American Mirai Nagasu took bronze. In pairs, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany won gold, Russians Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov took silver, and Canadas pair of Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto won bronze. Lipnitskaia also won Skate Canada, and her second victory of the season means she qualified for the Grand Prix Final -- which she missed last year due to injury. <a href="http://www.cheapauthenticjerseyschina.net/nike-nfl-jerseys-china_arizona-cardinals-jersey-china/">http://www.cheapauthenticjerseyschina.net/nike-nfl-jerseys-china_arizona-cardinals-jersey-china/</a>. Dallas running back DeMarco Murray caught a 20-yard touchdown pass with 41 seconds left and Carolina running back Mike Tolbert plunged into the end zone for a 2-point conversion to give Rice a 22-21 win over Sanders in the first schoolyard-style Pro Bowl on Sunday. <a href="http://www.cheapauthenticjerseyschina.net/">www.cheapauthenticjerseyschina.net</a>. Morgan got hurt running down a fly ball in left field on Wednesday night. Morgan was only in the game because Michael Brantley had left with a stiff back.FRISCO, Texas -- Fabian Castillo scored in the 62nd minute and FC Dallas snapped an eight-game winless streak with a 3-2 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night. Dallas (6-7-3) had failed to score more than one goal in a game during its skid. "Today, the result bounced our way. I thought we deserved it," FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said. "We were smarter. We knew that we were going to have some chances on the counter." Castillo took possession of the ball near midfield and dribbled around Rapids defender Drew Moor before curling a left-footed volley from 15 yards and into the right corner of the net. "Its a play we try a lot during the game, sometimes it goes in. Luckily it worked for me and it was a nice goal," Castillo said through a translator. Colorados Jose Mari tied it 2-all in the 52nd minute when he angled a header into the left corner of the net from inside of 6 yards. Dillon Powers set up the goal with a corner kick from the left side. Zach Loyd scored in the second minute of first-half stoppage time to give Dallas a 2-1 lead. It was Loyds first goal since July 4, 2012 -- a span of 51 games. "Its been a long time," Loyd said. "I was following Fabian into the box, he was getting a lot of 1-on-1 matches. I was just trying to get (the ball) on frame and it went into the back of the net." Loyds shot from 19 yards grazed the right leg of Colorado deefender Chris Klute, causing Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin to misplay the shot and the ball bounced off Irwins right hand and into the left corner of the net.dddddddddddd Dallas Andres Escobar tied the game 1-1 in the 33rd minute after Benitezs free kick bounced off of Escobars back and into the left corner of the net. Saturdays game was the first career start for Escobar, who did not realize he was credited with the goal until after the game. "The first two goals were a bit strange," Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni said. "Its frustrating, thats why you dont get caught up in results or at least I dont. You have to look at the big picture and where we were four, five months ago and where we are today. You cant get too caught up in the excitement of wins and too much into the sorrow of losses." Deshorn Brown chipped a shot from the top of the penalty box over the head of Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman to give the Rapids (6-5-4) a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute. Mari started the scoring sequence when he sent a cross to Drew Moor. He headed the ball and Brown redirected the shot into the net for his third goal in the past three games. "We lost momentum," Brown said. "That last goal has us a little confused." Dallas outshot Colorado 12-10. Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez finished with two saves and picked up his first win of the year in his sixth start of the season. ' ' '
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