SANTA CLARA -- NaVorro Bowman expressed pride Tuesday that his old friend, Kevin Durant, rose to the occasion to win NBA Finals MVP for the Golden State Warriors.

The 49ers' All-Pro linebacker also defended Durant’s decision nearly a year ago to chase an NBA championship with the Warriors rather than re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“That’s nonsense,” Bowman said of the criticism Durant faced. “That’s life. You always want to get better and go in the best situation possible to reach your ultimate goal. Everyone does that throughout life.

“People that’s talking like that, they just want something to talk about, and that was just an easy cop-out. He did a great job of just ignoring it and trusting his choice and living up to what everyone said he better do.”

Bowman and Durant have a friendship that dates back to when they were 8-year-old youth basketball teammates in Maryland.

“It’s just a great thing to see,” Bowman said. “You watch the guy just to get through what we’ve gotten through our entire lives and to understand where he came from. It says a lot about how hard he’s worked. Nothing is given to anyone, but especially on the side where we’re coming from.

“To see the joy in his mom’s eyes. I remember going to their house and seeing his mom get home from work and putting in those hours and seeing her rejoice, see her son reach the pinnacle that he’s been working so hard for his entire life. One thing I know about him, he’ll never be complacent. He’ll always work to get better and go back after it and try to get another one.”

 

Bowman was not able to attend the Warriors' clinching game over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. He said he sent Durant a text of congratuations but has yet to hear back from him.