Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook did the incredible on Sunday night by breaking a 55-year-old triple-double record.
The Los Angeles-born point guard set the NBA’s single-season record for triple-doubles previously held by Oscar Robertson. Robertson in 1961-62, recorded 41 triple-doubles averaging 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game.
He was the only player in NBA history to average such statistics until Westbrook showed up with more than a chip on his shoulder.
Russell Westbrook put in a clutch performance – scoring when the score is within five points in the final five minutes – and nailed a game-winning 36-foot buzzer-beating three-pointer to defeat the Denver Nuggets.
— NBA (@NBA) April 10, 2017
It was his 42nd triple-double of the season with a 50-point, 16-rebound, 10-assist performance that also eliminated the Nuggets from playoff contention.
He has averaged an NBA-high 31.9 points to go along with 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game making him the second player in league history to average a triple-double over a full season.
Speaking to reporters after the game, he said:
“Very, very blessed. I’ve got to give all the thanks from the man above,” said Westbrook.
“He’s blessed me with unbelievable talent to go out and compete at a high level. I’m just thankful for my teammates, for my coaching staff, for the organization, for all the fans, for my family for believing in me and allowing me to do what I’m doing.”
OKC Thunder, who were playing on the road, had away fans cheering for their leader as the public-address announcer congratulated him on the record.
“I’ve been feeling it for a while,” Westbrook said when asked about opposing teams fans getting behind him to break the record.
“Everywhere I’ve been, the crowd’s been kind of like that, which is truly amazing, something I could never dream about growing up in inner-city Los Angeles. Now being on the biggest stage possible is something I could never dream about.”
Russell Westbrook’s season has been full of history. He has had two streaks of seven consecutive triple-doubles, second only to Wilt Chamberlain’s streak of nine. He also sits fourth on the all-time career triple-doubles list with 79, behind greats like Robertson, Magic Johnson, and Jason Kidd.
These impressive achievements have put him at the forefront of this season’s MVP race. Other main contenders for the league’s Most Valuable Player Award are Houston Rocket’s James Harden and San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard.
Of the two, Harden has a case against Westbrook’s claim to the award having led his team to a superior win record. He also averaged 29.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 11.3 assists per game for the season.
Another notable fact worth mentioning is the fact that Westbrook had no ‘superstar’ help in the team having lost Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka in the offseason.
Some analysts and past players like Kobe Bryant have been undecided on the race and called for the award to be given to the two players. Others like four-time MVP Lebron James and Clippers star Blake Griffin have put their weight behind the OKC star.
wow russ. give that man the mvp.
— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin32) April 9, 2017
On Russell Westbrook winning the MVP race, Thunder coach Billy Donovan said:
“I think today was a pretty good argument,” Donovan said of his buzzer-beating clutch performance.
“I’ve seen it every day. I think any coach out there who’s got a player that he’s working with or has been around is going to be for his guy, I understand that. But for me, I really, really believe that he is [the MVP] because of what he’s done between the lines because of what he’s done from a leadership role.
Regardless of who wins, Westbrook and Harden are set to square off in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Whoever loses the award will use that disappointment to make their case, making a great matchup and a must watch game for all viewers.