The best NBA players put a lot of themselves into their profession, both physically and emotionally. Playing at an extremely high level requires great commitment and focus. Within that small group of elite players, Kevin Durant maintains a level of focus and determination arguably surpassed only by Kobe Bryant. Durant cares a lot, and it shows in everything he does on the court and off it.
After being eliminated by the Miami in a 121-106 blowout in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Durant let that emotion take over. Following a sincere (and pretty touching) chat with LeBron James after the final buzzer, Durant walked through the tunnel to the locker room and began to cry. He hugged several Thunder employees and then found his mother and brother, whom he embraced for several seconds before moving along. It was a tough sight, simply because it was obvious how much that loss meant to Durant. Here's what he had to say in his postgame press conference:
"It hurts. It hurts, man. We're all brothers on this team. It just hurts to go out like this. We made it to the Finals, which was cool for us, but we didn't want to just make it there. … As a whole, I'm proud of the guys and how we fought all season. … I wouldn't want to play for anyone else, I wouldn't want to play for any other city."
The pain for Durant came from being so close, to falling short of something he's dreamed about. That's a feeling we've seen before, although it hasn't always been commonly accepted in the past. After Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals, when the Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks, Chris Bosh broke down in the tunnel and was widely mocked for it. Yet the reasoning that Bosh gave for his show of emotion isn't really much different from that of Durant — they care so much about winning that tasting it without complete satisfaction is an incredibly painful feeling.
It's a good sign that people largely accepted Durant's reaction. Professional athletes — all public figures, really — should be allowed to show their emotion when warranted. What we need to remember more than anything is that the same passion that defines that pain is also what allows them to succeed.
(Video via EOB)
More NBA Finals content on Yahoo! Sports:
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• Experts and fans take to Twitter for reaction to Miami Heat's championship
• Mike Miller plays through pains to lift Heat in Game 5