After capturing their respective record-tying fifth and third gold medals, USA Basketball honored Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant and Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird as the 2021 USA Basketball Male and Female Athlete of the Year.
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) December 17, 2021
“It’s amazing to be honored in this way,” Durant said via USA Basketball’s release of the awards. “First off, to represent your country and do it amongst the best athletes in the world, it’s an honor. So many great athletes come through USA Basketball and the national teams in general in all sports, and so to be chosen as one of the top athletes is an honor. I’m very grateful for the opportunity and thankful that I received this award.”
For the third time in his Olympic career, Durant has been honored as the Male Athlete of the Year, previously winning the award outright in 2010 and then sharing the award with Carmelo Anthony in 2016. Durant set the U.S. Olympic men’s single-competition record for points averaged in 2021, with a team-high 20.7 alongside 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists a game while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Bird and the Women’s National Team made history this past summer, capturing a seventh-straight gold medal for the U.S. Women. The most decorated FIBA athlete in history averaged a team-high and a tournament fourth-best 5.8 assists while contributing 5.5 points and grabbing 2.5 rebounds per game.
What an honor! This experience is always about more than one player so a SPECIAL shout out to the ‘mates & coaches! And of course a HUGE thank you to everyone at @usabasketball
🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇 x 🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾
Maybe most importantly 👋🏼@VoltarenGel you the real MVP 🤩😂 https://t.co/ndIU6ZNFJF
— Sue Bird (@S10Bird) December 16, 2021
“Winning gold medals is never about one player, and so I’d be remiss if I didn’t give the bulk of the credit to my teammates and coaches. Again, I’ve been so lucky to put this uniform on as long as I have, and winning gold in Tokyo couldn’t have been more of a team effort,” Bird said in a memo from Team USA’s.
Bird, alongside USA teammate Diana Taurasi, became the only Olympic basketball athlete’s ever to win five gold medals, an unprecedented run that’s ended in numerous accolades.