Monday night, the NBA delivered the most thrilling game of its 2017 championship series and Golden State and Kevin Durant eliminated LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Durant finally got his championship, and he got a Finals’ MVP trophy to go with it. Golden State beat Cleveland 129-120. Durant finished with 39 points. Durant’s 176 points in the Finals were the second-most ever in an NBA Finals series lasting five games. Allen Iverson scored 178 in 2001 when his Philly 76ers lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.
After the game, Durant’s mother, Wanda, interrupted his post-game interview with Doris Burke, telling her son “I don’t care what anyone says. You did it,” referring to criticism he got for signing with Golden State and leaving an Oklahoma City team that blew a 3-1 series lead to the Warriors in the Western Conference finals a year ago.
“I couldn’t sleep for two days,” Durant finally told Burke when asked to tell a national TV audience about his feelings. “I was anxious. I was jittery. I just wanted to lay it all out there. I put in work and I had to trust in it....We prevailed. We’re champions and it’s amazing to do it on our home floor.”
Social media, as usual for this series, was electric.
Durant celebrated with fans in a purely emotional moment.
There has been a lot of talk about whether all this Cleveland-Golden State stuff is good for the NBA. Never before had two teams met in three straight NBA finals, but with seven all-stars and at least three future Hall of Famers on the court, the basketball was mostly entertaining and at times, simply memorable.
Game 5 was no different, as Bleacher Report breathlessly pointed out.
Before the game began, the cast of Bay Area version of “Hamilton” sang the national anthem and trended on social media.
With tickets going for astronomical amounts courtside and TV ratings way up, you would expect the stars to be out to watch. And they were.
Throughout the game and throughout the series, Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving has shown he’s one of the most prolific below-the-rim players in the league. He was up to his old tricks in the first quarter of Game 5.
Again, referee calls -- or lack of them -- dominated the talk around Game 5 Monday night.
But one big no call came in the second quarter when LeBron James was clearly fouled by Kevin Durant on a monster dunk, a foul that would’ve led to Durant’s third foul early in the quarter, a (correct) call that would’ve left the Warriors without their best player for an extended time in the period.
Another memorable moment of the first half was the scrum between the Warriors David West and the Cavs’ Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. Thompson and West ended up face-to-face --- and on social media accounts everywhere.
If noting else, Kevin Durant answered a lot of critics who have panned him for big game performances in the past. He hit big shot after big shot in Game 5, as one SEC media personality (correctly) picked up on.
And as we leave you, know this: on cue, Nike had a very cool ad ready for Durant, who had his biggest moment.