After the Golden State Warriors’ championship victory Monday, viewers watched as Kevin Durant and his mother shared an emotional embrace at midcourt. NaVorro Bowman was watching, too, and may have been moved more than most.
He grew up with Durant outside of Washington, D.C., played on the same middle-school basketball team and has been in Wanda Durant’s home many times.
“Just to see the joy in his mom’s eyes,” the 49ers linebacker said Tuesday. “I remember going to their house and seeing his mom get home from work and putting in those hours and time with her son. Just to see her (joy). To see her son reach the pinnacle that he’s been working so hard for his entire life.”
Bowman said the Warriors’ championship, Durant’s first, inspired him. Bowman and the 49ers went to the Super Bowl in 2012 but fell to the Baltimore Ravens. He said he thought about returning to the Super Bowl as the confetti was falling from Oracle Arena on Monday.
“I pulled out my playbook – it just made me want to go after winning my first ring even harder,” Bowman said. “It was the same thing with him making it to the NBA. In basketball, you only have to (spend) a year in college; football you have to do at least three. He motivated me to get to this point and he definitely motivated me last night.”
Bowman told The Associated Press last month that he and his teammates had to urge Durant to take more shots when they played at Drew Freeman Middle School in Maryland. Durant was more than 6 feet tall at the time but was quick and agile enough to play on the wing.
“Can you believe we had to tell him to shoot?” Bowman said.
Bowman has attended a number of Warriors games since Durant joined the team and was at Game 1 of the NBA Finals
“He comes over all the time and he comes to games,” Durant said. “It’s one of those legacy things that we’ll sit down and talk about forever, people from our area just for this to come together like this is divine and it’s special. I have a friend for life in him.”
Some have criticized Durant for leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder for an already-loaded Warriors squad, a gripe that Bowman called “nonsense.”
“I mean, I feel like that’s life – you always want to get better, go to the best situation possible to reach your ultimate goal,” he said. “I feel like everyone does that throughout life. Talking like that – they just want something to talk about. It’s an easy cop out.”
Bowman did not attend Monday’s game. But he sent Durant a text message afterward.
“Just telling him you deserve it and congratulations to you and your family,” Bowman said of the message. “Because I know the sacrifices that they made also.”