Kevin Durant hailed his inspirational team-mates as his Golden State Warriors team secured back-to-back NBA titles and he joined an exclusive club.
The Warriors swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in the best-of-seven finals series, winning the fourth match in Ohio 108-85 on Friday to secure their third championship in four years.
Durant was chosen as the series’ Most Valuable Player, and became only the fifth player in history to register a 20-point triple-double in a title-clinching game.
Warriors guard Steph Curry contributed 37 points to the winning cause, as LeBron James and the Cavaliers lost out to the Oakland franchise for the second successive year.
Durant said: “This is about the journey – all season, getting up, going to work with these guys is amazing.
“The environment is incredible. It’s good for you to be around guys like this, it helps you become a better basketball player and a better man.
“I’m happy to be part of this group.”
Asked about the contest with Cavaliers superstar James, Durant added: “When you play against one of the best, it brings out the best in you as well.
“I’m just glad we got back-to-back championships and I’m looking forward to celebrating in the locker room right now.”
James revealed he had played the final three matches of the series with a broken hand, a “self-inflicted” injury, reportedly sustained when he punched a whiteboard after the overtime defeat in game one.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr admitted the talent in his team made this success easier to take in than previous successes.
“It was definitely the toughest from the standpoint that it was the fourth year in a row that we’ve attempted to get back to the finals,” he told reporters at a post-match press conference.
“I remember sitting in this room three years ago and this feels more like reality. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant. That’s just the talent we have, the experience we’ve gained.
“Three years ago it was ‘I can’t believe this happened’. But now it’s ‘I can definitely believe this happened’. But it was hard.”
After building a nine-point lead by half-time, the Warriors put the game out of Cleveland’s grasp with a third-quarter rally in which they outscored their opposition 25-13.
LeBron James left the court with 4:03 left on the clock and the Cavs down 102-77, having just turned over the ball to Durant while the game slipped out of their reach.
James had 23 points on the night, with his Cleveland side looking to do the improbable and overturn a 3-0 deficit for the first time in NBA Finals history.