Sports briefs 5-7-14: Thunder star Kevin Durant wins first MVP award

CLIFF BRUNT AP Sports Writer Published:

OKLAHOMA CITY -- In accepting his first MVP award, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant made a point of sharing the honor with those who made it possible.

In a soul-baring speech that lasted more than 25 minutes, Durant fought back tears several times while thanking each of his teammates, the coaches, support staff and team executives, and finally his family. The emotional outpouring culminated with a tribute to his mother, Wanda Pratt, and the sacrifices she made, the inspiration she provided while raising Durant and his brother in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

"You made us believe," Durant said to Pratt, who was at the ceremony in Edmond. "Kept us off the street. Put clothes on our backs, food on the table. When you didn't eat, you made sure we ate. You sacrificed for us. You're the real MVP."

• Basketball

Big Ten to DC: Tom Izzo is coming up on 20 years as Michigan State's basketball coach, so if anyone might be skeptical about moving the Big Ten Conference tournament to the East Coast, it would be him.

Like some fans, Izzo did have his doubts initially when Commissioner Jim Delany decided to put the league's 2017 men's basketball tournament at Verizon Center in Washington.

"But I look at the track record, and how we've handled things, and how our conference has grown, and I just say, 'Wow, this is going to be another win-win-win,'" Izzo said Tuesday, when Delany formally announced the site will host games March 8-12, 2017.

Jackson fired: Mark Jackson came to the Golden State Warriors talking big and brash. He promised playoff appearances and championships, and he delivered plenty of wins along the way.

Away from the court, though, Jackson never backed down from doing things how he wanted. His inability to mesh with management -- and management's inability to mesh with Jackson -- increasingly overshadowed his success and ultimately cost him his job.

The Warriors fired Jackson after three seasons Tuesday.

Taking leave: Los Angeles Clippers President Andy Roeser is taking an indefinite leave of absence while the NBA restructures the franchise in the wake of owner Donald Sterling's lifetime ban.

Roeser's immediate departure was announced Tuesday by the NBA. The league announced plans last week to appoint a CEO to oversee the franchise in Sterling's absence.

Heat rolls: LeBron James scored 22 points, Ray Allen added 19 and Miami stayed perfect in this postseason by beating Brooklyn 107-86 on Tuesday night in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

It was the first win for Miami in five meetings with Brooklyn this season.

Spurs win big: Tony Parker had 33 points and nine assists and San Antonio never trailed in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal., winning 116-92.

Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and Tim Duncan added 12 points.

• Hockey

Wild back in series: Erik Haula and Mikael Granlund scored goals less than 3 minutes apart early in the third period, and the Minnesota Wild recovered from a sluggish start for a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal series.

Montreal up 2-1: P.K. Subban, Dale Weise and Lars Eller each had a goal and an assist, Carey Price made 26 saves, and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Boston Bruins 4-2 on Tuesday night to take a 2-1 lead in their NHL series.

• Elsewhere

Legrand speaking: Former Rutgers University football player Eric LeGrand, whose recovery from a paralyzing injury suffered during a game has become a unifying and inspirational story for the school, was announced Tuesday as one of its commencement speakers, a day after he said the offer to do so was rescinded "for political reasons."

The announcement from Rutgers President Robert Barchi, who said there was a "miscommunication" about the speeches.

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