Kawhi Leonard's huge impact on the 2014 NBA Finals has earned him the Most Valuable Player award.
The San Antonio Spurs' forward had a breakout series against the Miami Heat this year, dominating on both ends despite being frequently matched up against LeBron James. Rather than back down from the challenge, Leonard calmly stepped up and often looked like the best player during the team's 4-1 series win.
The typically stoic Leonard showed a rare bit of emotion after being announced as the MVP:
At 22 years old and just three years removed from being selected with the No. 15 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Leonard has already captured two of basketball's biggest prizes. Despite being relatively quiet in the first two games of the series, he still finished with averages of 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game.
Leonard was especially impressive once the series moved to Miami for Game 3, going off for an incredible 29-point performance as San Antonio took over the series. He continued that brilliance in the next two games, going 20-10 twice as the Spurs finished off a truly special season.
Leonard's versatility created problems for Miami and magic for San Antonio. He forced turnovers along with tough shots on defense, ran the floor in transition on offense, worked the boards and drained the spot-up three attempts San Antonio's fluid ball movement created. Leonard shot 58 percent from three-point range through the NBA Finals, hitting at least half of his attempts in every game.
The Spurs were clicking as a team, but the up-and-coming forward takes away the Bill Russell Award for his stellar individual play throughout the series. Here's to hoping that this is the beginning of another special era for one of the NBA's most deserving franchises and its newest star player.