Nick Young: Kevin Durant desperately tried to give Steph Curry Finals MVP, but ‘Steph couldn’t make a shot’

Peter Dewey
6 Min Read

Former Golden State Warriors guard Nick Young believes that Kevin Durant tried to give Stephen Curry the 2018 NBA Finals MVP, but the star point guard wasn’t able to play well enough to get it.

The Warriors, who won the NBA Finals in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons with Durant on the roster, defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games in the 2018 NBA Finals.


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“They was neck and neck, K.D. and Steph,” Young said. “Then Steph had one bad game. K.D. was hitting. Locker room, Steph head was down – damn near tears. Yeah, after a win. Man, he wanted to win that b—-. K.D. was trying to give it to him. K.D. won the year before. He was trying to give it to him.”

In the 2018 NBA Finals, Curry scored 29 points in Game 1 and 33 points in Game 2 to lead Golden State to a 2-0 series lead.

However, he struggled mightily in Game 3, scoring just 11 points on 3-of-16 shooting from the field and 1-for-10 shooting from beyond the arc.

Durant dominated in Game 3, scoring 43 points on 15-of-23 shooting from the field to lead Golden State to an eight-point win. For the series, Durant went on to average 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game while shooting 52.6 percent from the field, earning his second straight Finals MVP.

While Young – who was with the Warriors in the 2017-18 season – believes Curry was frustrated because he wasn’t going to win the Finals MVP award, Curry himself has shared the emotions he was dealing with following Game 3 in an interview with former Warriors general manager Bob Myers.

“There was one game – 2018 Game 3 – there was conversations,” Curry said. “You just go to media, they’re asking you about it. You look at the stat lines and all that. It’s like, ‘Oh, if they sweep them, who really is gonna get it, K.D. or Steph?’

“I’m getting asked that question in the middle of the Finals, so obviously, as a human being, your mind starts to think about certain outcomes and all of that. And I played like trash in Game 3.”

Myers then joked that after that game, Curry was out of the equation for the award.

“It’s the balance of knowing the standard that I needed to play at for us to win,” Curry said. “The fact that I shot it horribly, was kind of all over the place. I made one shot towards the end of Game 3, and then K.D. makes the big 3. We go up 3-0. And it’s like – we’re good.

“But the Finals MVP, I knew it was done after that. It was part of the emotional rollercoaster ride of like, ‘Oh that would’ve been cool to have kept that level of play going because that might’ve got there. But, it was also we won. And so, you’re dealing with a little bit of both of that. And it’s more – I think Andre [Iguodala] had his arm around me on the way back through the tunnel. We just won, and I was down on myself because of how I had played.

“And everybody took it as the context of like, ‘He just kicked the Finals MVP thing away.’ … Yeah, I thought about it once or twice, but the real reason I was upset was because I played like trash.”

Curry didn’t have a bad series for Golden State in the 2018 NBA Finals even with his Game 3 performance. The four-time champion ended up averaging 27.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game while shooting 41.5 percent from 3-point range.

Still, it’s pretty clear that Durant’s numbers were better than Curry’s numbers in the series, and it’s possible Golden State doesn’t win Game 3 without Durant scoring 43 points.

Even though Curry didn’t win a Finals MVP in the first three titles that he won in Golden State, he ended up finally getting the award in the 2021-22 season when the Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics.

Curry was magnificent in that series, averaging 31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 48.2 percent from the field and 43.7 percent from 3-point range. Golden State rallied from a loss in Game 1 of that series to defeat Boston in six games.

Durant has not won or made an NBA Finals since he left the Warriors following the 2018-19 season.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball, football and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.