13 May 2014, Thunder Events Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
Wow. Wow. Thank you guys so much. I’m usually good at talking, but I’m a little nervous today.
First off, I’d like to thank God for changing my life. It let me realize what life is really all about. Basketball is just a platform in order for me to inspire people and I realize that.
I come from a small county outside of Washington D.C. called PG County. Me, my mom, my brother – we moved so many different places growing up. It felt like a box. It felt like there was no getting out. My dream was to become a rec league coach. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to stay home and help the kids out and be a coach. I love basketball so much and I love playing it. I just never thought I would make it to college, the NBA or stand up here today in front of you guy and be the NBA MVP. It’s just a surreal feeling.
I had so much help. So many people believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. So many people doubted me and motivated me every single day to be who I am. I fell so many times and got back up. I been through the toughest times with my family, but I’m still standing.
In the game of basketball, I play first off because I love it. I love to have fun. I love to run up and down the court. I told Grant Hill back there – I just got done playing against him – as a second grader I had a Pistons Grant Hill jersey. That was the first time I walked into a gym. That’s when I fell in love with the game. My mom, I think she just wanted to get me and my brothers out of the house for a few hours. When I walked into the gym, I fell in love with the game. I didn’t fall in love with it just because it was me playing. I fell in love with it because I’ve got guys like this – like these guys every single day that push me to be the best that I can be.
I want to single them out. Vets of this team. Fish, Nick, Perk, Thabo, Caron, Serge, Hasheem. I just want to say thank you to you guys, man. Y’all mean so much to me just because I could walk in and have a terrible day and I can see Hasheem smiling at me at 7-3 with small pants on. That’ll change my day.
Or I can see Fish, just a button-up like a mayor, like a president. Just demands so much from his teammates, has played with so many great players but still respects everybody. He’s 38 years old – nothing else to prove – I said, “Fish, you want to come get some shots with me?” First thing he says is “yes” because he always wants to learn even though he’s done so much in this league, played with so many great players. He always wants to learn and that motivated me to know that it’s never a point where you can stop getting better. He’s the guy that made me realize that.
Perk, from the minute you got here…I hated you before you got here. The moment you got here, man, you just changed my whole perception of you. Just one of the best teammates I ever had. I just thank you so much. The late night calls after tough games, you texting me, telling me I’m the MVP. That means a lot to me, man. Thank you.
Sorry. I’m going to keep going.
Nick, you know, the first guy I met when I first got to Seattle as an 18 year old. You took me in. You believed in me from the beginning. You knew that I had potential. Every single day, I know I can look at you and know that you respect me as a man, as a player and you’re going to ride with me to the end. And I thank you.
Thabo, when you came to the team, man, I didn’t know if you spoke English or not, so I didn’t know how to approach you. You were always so quiet, but I could tell you were about the team first. You came in and you went to work from Day 1. You also believed in me, always gave me confidence. When I’m having a tough stretch, you always come to me and hit me on my chest, just tell me “let’s go,” and I know what that means from you. I appreciate you so much, man. You being here, being a part of this journey with me means a lot. I thank you.
Caron, even though you just got here a few months ago we’ve grown so close over these last few weeks and I can remember when you first got here you wrote a piece of paper in my locker … I don’t know why I’m crying so much, man … you wrote a piece of paper in my locker and it said, “KD MVP.” And that was after we lost two or three straight. I don’t really say much in those moments, but I remember that. I go home and I think about that stuff, man. When you got people behind you, you can do whatever. I thank you, man. I appreciate you.
Serge, my ex-next door neighbor. You still can’t speak English, but I know what you’re talking about. Our relationship is definitely like a brother relationship where I squared up with you one day in practice ready to fight you. The next day as soon as we got back into the locker room, we were hugging. We were talking about how we were going to be better the next game. And when Russell was out, you stepped your game up for me, for the team. There were nights where you made me look way better than I am. You clean up so many of our mistakes, man, and we appreciate that. From everybody on the team, we appreciate that, man, and I thank you so much for giving me confidence when I didn’t have it, for always being there when I wanted to talk to you, when I wanted to call, for arguing with me all the time, making me better and realizing I’m not always right. Thank you, man. I appreciate you.
I can’t forget about my young guys. We had a group text after Game 5 and I forgot to put my young guys in there and they felt some type of way about it. Jeremy, Perry, Andre, Steve and Reggie, Grant. You guys make me so much better without even knowing, man, because I know I set an example for y’all. I know there are days where I have my bad days. I say some words I’m not supposed to say sometimes, but when I need an extra push, you guys are there, man. I appreciate that. I appreciate that because I’m not always the best leader. I’m not always the best player. I don’t always shoot the best in the games. But our little handshakes we do before games, that gets me going.
Andre, you are one of my favorite teammates ever and I thank you so much, man. Your spirit, just your smile. It means a lot to me.
Perry, Jeremy … man, just knowing you guys look up to me and I can help you out so much. I can pull you to the side when we’re working out and just as much as you think I’m making you better, you’re elevating my game.
Reggie when I first met you, you didn’t say two words to me. I didn’t know who you were, but we instantly clicked. You became one of my best friends, man. Words can’t explain how much I care about you, your well-being, how you’re feeling. Not even just basketball, but off the court, making sure you’re alright. You’re such a humble person, man. You do everything for the team. You always put yourself last and I learn a lot from you. Thank you, man. Thank you.
Steven, Big Kiwi. I didn’t know who you were when you first got here, but you made me realize with the screens you set in practice … you elbow me when I come down the lane. You let your presence be known, man, and you’re just such a fun, spirited person. Never change who you are, man. You mean a lot to me. You inspire me, too. You’ve been through so much at a young age and I relate to that. I know your story. I don’t really talk about it a lot, but I know. Keep being who you are, man, because you’re a hell of a person. Thank you.
Grant, when we drafted you, once again I didn’t know who you were. But when we got together in the summer time, I seen how talented you were. I seen how much you wanted to learn and I wanted to be on-point every single day because I know how much you were watching me. I thank you for your support, just your kind heart, your spirit, everything, man. I appreciate you. Even though you’ve been here for a few weeks, you mean so much to our team. I’m glad you’re a part of it.
I love all you guys.
I know you guys think I forgot Russ. But I could speak all night about Russell. An emotional guy who will run through a wall for me. I don’t take it for granted. There’s days when I just want to tackle you and tell you to snap out of it sometimes, but I know there’s days when you want to do the same thing with me. I love you, man. I love you. A lot of people put unfair criticism on you as a player and I’m the first to have your back, man, though it all. Just stay the person you are. Everybody loves you here. I love you. I thank you so much, man. You make me better. You know, your work ethic, I always want to compete with you. I always want to pull up in the parking lot of the arena, or the practice facility, and if you beat me there I was always upset. I always wanted to outwork you. You set the bar. You set the tone. Thank you so much, man. Thank you. You have a big piece of this. You’re an MVP-caliber player. It’s a blessing to play with you, man.
Thank all you guys, I know we have a bigger goal in mind. We have a tough game tomorrow, but this means the world to me that you guys are here with me celebrating with me. Thank you. Thank you. I can’t express it enough.
I’m sorry. I’m almost done. Give me a couple more minutes.
Thank you to the organization for drafting me and believing in me from the beginning that I can be an MVP player.
Mr. Bennett, just giving me this opportunity. I thank you for always being there when I need you. Every time I see you under the basket for a game, I feel confident. No matter how the game is going, I look at you and I can tell, “If our owner is behind us, we can do it all.” I thank you so much for giving me this opportunity.
Sam Presti, thank you, sir. Your texts late night after a good game, after a bad game. I appreciate those. From the beginning, your support means a lot to me. I thank you for putting together such a great team and doing so much for us. Our community is blessed to have you. Our franchise is blessed to have you. Thank you.
Troy Weaver. Somebody I’ve known for such a long time. God directed our paths to work together and it’s been everything and more, man. Our relationship has grown day by day and I thank you for believing me and for always being on top of me and just keeping it real with me no matter what, always supporting my family. I thank you, man. Words can’t express how much you mean to me. Such a great man to your family, to this team, to this community. We all appreciate you.
To all the staff, I can’t name all you guys. All the staff members that take care of us every single day from Donnie Strack, Joe Sharpe, Tony (Katzenmeier), Dave Bliss, Josh Longstaff, Will (Dawkins), Wilson (Taylor), (Mark St. Yves), Dwight (Daub). I could go down the line. All you guys have made me a better player. I wish I had a Sharpie so I could write all your names on here because you had a hand on this. You made me believe in myself. You made me a better person, a better player. Your words of encouragement, your love, your positivity got me through. And I thank you guys.
Coaching staff, I know there’s days when you want to look at that film and kill me for not playing defense, for taking bad shots, getting too many techs. But you always believe that I can be the guy. Through the tough times, you guys never left my side. Always wanted to help me get better. Always wanted to push me to new limits. Always work with me. Took time out of your summers to come work with me. Took time out of your nights to come work with me. And it’s something I really appreciate. I never want to take you guys for granted. I thank you so much for being a part of my life, not just on the basketball court, but giving me talks about growing as a man first and a basketball player next. I thank you so much.
Scott Brooks, you mean the world to me. I love you. You as a man. I never met anybody like you, so selfless. You don’t take the credit for nothing, even though you deserve all of it. I love you and your family for always taking me in, believing me, texting me late at night when I was going crazy. Thank you. Thank you.
Beautiful fans of Oklahoma City, I can’t say enough about you guys. All the support you give our team. The home-court advantage we have is the best I’ve ever seen. We disappoint you sometimes, but we try our best every single night to win for you guys. And we want to win a championship for you guys. This city, all they want us to be is ourselves. You love us how we are. We’re all a work in progress as men and you still love us and I thank you so much for embracing us.
Last but not least my family. My brother Tony, I love you. Thank you for beating me up when I was a kid. I always wanted to follow in your footsteps. I pray for you every night. You’ve taught me to feel confident in myself, believe in myself that I can do it when I didn’t think I could do it.
Dad, it’s been an up-and-down road for all of us, but you’ve always been there supporting from afar, texting me Bible verses every single day, telling me you love me every single day. That builds me up and I thank you so much. I love you. I’m just glad you’re part of this journey with us.
My little brother Rayvonne, you always followed after my footsteps. I always want to set a good example for you, man. Thank you for all the support. I love you.
All my friends, Cliff (Dixon), Charlie (Bell), Vernon (Dixon), Tay (Young), Randy (Williams), Ryan (Lopez). You keep me sane every single day. There’s days where I come home upset from a game or practice and you just brighten my day up. I thank you guys. You mean the world to me. I wouldn’t be here without all you guys. This our trophy, too. I appreciate it. Thank you.
All the support from all my family, all my friends, over the years I appreciate it. My grandma couldn’t be here. I know she’s watching. She’s going to text me as soon as I get off the stage. Thank you so much for picking me up from school when I was a kid, fixing me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day, texting me after every single game, telling me I need to stop getting techs and loving me unconditionally.
And last, my mom. I don’t think you know what you did. You had my brother when you were 18 years old. Three years later, I came out. The odds were stacked against us. Single parent with two boys by the time you were 21 years old. Everybody told us we weren’t supposed to be here. We went from apartment to apartment by ourselves. One of the best memories I had was when we moved into our first apartment, no bed, no furniture and we just sat in the living room and just hugged each other. We thought we made it.
When something good happens to you, I don’t know about you guys, but I tend to look back to what brought me here. You wake me up in the middle of the night in the summer times, making me run up a hill, making me do pushups, screaming at me from the sidelines of my games at 8 or 9 years old. We wasn’t supposed to be here. You made us believe. You kept us off the street. You put clothes on our backs, food on the table. When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You the real MVP.
Last, I’d just like to thank God again. You’re the first and the last, alpha and omega. I thank you for saving my life.
I appreciate everybody. Thanks to all the writers for voting for me.