Tuesday June 13, 2017

'I wanted this for him for so many years': Kevin Durant's mom celebrates his big win

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors and his mother Wanda Durant celebrate after winning the 2017 NBA Finals.

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors and his mother Wanda Durant celebrate after winning the 2017 NBA Finals. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

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Last night, seconds after the Golden State Warriors won the NBA finals, Kevin Durant and his mother, Wanda, were wrapped in a tight embrace on the court.

It was a long-awaited championship for Mr. Durant, his first in the NBA, and his mother Wanda had been at his side every step of the way.

But that journey hasn't been easy. Ms. Durant spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off about what led her son to this moment. Here is part of their conversation. 

Carol Off:  Wanda, how did it feel to see your son win the NBA finals last night?

Wanda Durant: I was just amazingly proud. It was quite overwhelming, really, because I wanted this for him for so many years but this was the perfect time. It was hard to describe actually. Of course I was proud and pleased, it was quite emotional. I was just really on edge and I had to really take a moment to take it all in.

CO: There was this great moment on the court last night when you were embracing your son after the game was over. That's a long time coming isn't it, that moment?

WD:  Yes, that moment there was a long time coming because I know how hard he worked, and I remember when he decided, I remember the moment he came to me and said that he wanted to be a professional athlete.  

It was quite emotional because all the highs and lows we had gone through individually and as a family. 

2017 NBA Finals - Game Five

Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors and his mother Wanda Durant celebrate after winning the 2017 NBA Finals on June 12, 2017 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

CO: Your son said in 2014, when he was named most valuable player, he said the real MVP is [his] mom. He said "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." You were a single mom during those years. How difficult was it to support him through all of that?

WD: At the time, I could say it was difficult and there were moments that I didn't know how we were going to make ends meet. But as I look back now, it was all worth it. Mothers just do what they have to do.

As I look back, they were the sweetest times in our lives. Nothing could compare to it. Nothing.

CO: Your son worked so hard for that moment last night. And when he left Oklahoma City to play for the Golden State Warriors, it was something that upset the fans in Oklahoma. I know that at one game in Oklahoma he got some pretty intense booing and chanting, and you were there. How hard was it for you to hear what the people in the stands had to say?

WD: That was quite difficult. I knew that they would be disappointed in his departure. But to be so venomous and question him as a man after he had poured his heart and soul into Oklahoma. Kevin is a natural leader. And so a leader is the last person he thinks about, and that's what Kevin gave to Oklahoma City. And for them not to recognize that, because he decided to leave, that was quite hurtful.     

NBA Finals Cavaliers Warriors Basketball

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, right, celebrates with his mother Wanda Durant as he is named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player after Game 5 of basketball's NBA Finals between the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/ Associated Press)

CO: It was a tense series wasn't it? Last night, final score 129 to 120. But your son, he was unstoppable. I mean he scored 39 points. What was going on in your heart and mind as you watched him do that?

WD: At that moment I was just wanting it for him. I wanted the success of it for him. I wanted him to be able to have that individual accomplishment, and then the accomplishment along with the team. I knew he could do it. I just knew he could do it.

CO: He was doing an interview afterwards and you came behind him and you grabbed him by the scruff of his beard and pulled him towards you. What did you say to him?   

WD: I told him to look at me and I told him that he did it. And I wanted him to hear me say it ... That was important to me.  

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. For more, listen to our interview with Wanda Durant.