Thursday, May 8, 2014

MVP and Speech

Kevin Durant delivered an amazing MVP acceptance speech Tuesday in Oklahoma City.  The award clearly meant much to "Mr. Reliable" as he's now called in multiple media outlets.  He went player by player through his teammates discussing some of their attributes and how they have contributed to him winning the award and making him a better player.   In general, the MVP speech isn't something that I would think in general there is a lot of expectation on.  Meaning, the public feels like you can accept the award, thank a few people, and get back to business.  That's why KDs speech was so unusual.  We can compare it to Lebron's speech this last year.  The sheer difference in length is the first difference you may notice between the two MVPs.

It is interesting to note what words were used.  I chose only the top 11 words from each player to get a sense of how they focused their speech.  Both players mentioned "guys" a lot as well as "team" which gives a sense that they were both giving credit to their teammates.  Graphed against each other, the two speeches show a bit more interesting parts in terms of the frequency of words.

"Love" for instance was a big part of Durant's speech, his communicating the way he felt about his team and those around him was really important.  His speech was about thanking people, showing his appreciation for those around him.  We can also see Durant was also concerned about being "better" and can infer from the text that those around him were the people that made him better since appreciation, love, and team were mentioned so much.  If we scale the graph to only show those words mentioned 13 times or less, we can see where some words were used several times by either player and not by the other.

Here we see "team" mentioned over 10 times by Kevin Durant and only 1 time by Lebron.  Lebron referred to his team as "guys" and we can't discern just from these words that his speech wasn't about his team.  But, it is clear just from looking at word usage that Kevin's speech was clearly more about team than Lebron's without having to listen to the speeches themselves.  Those of you who watched/listened Durant's speech understand that going player by player was a clear objective for his accepting the award and that communicating the importance of his team in the journey was a priority.

As mentioned before, this speech isn't something to have high expectations for, which is why what Durant said and how he said it was so remarkable.