In the first ever NBA Awards show broadcasted Monday on TNT, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s starting point guard, Russell Westbrook, took home the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award for the first time in his career. Westbrook received 69 first-place votes, beating out James Harden, who had 22, and Kawhi Leonard, who finished with just nine votes.
In the process, he also broke Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson’s single season record for most triple-doubles in a season with 42. Westbrook became the first player in 55 years to average a triple-double for the entire NBA season.
Westbrook finished the regular season averaging 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists. His 31.6 ppg was also good enough to win him the NBA’s scoring title as well. He also led Oklahoma City to a sixth-place finish in the Western Conference with a record of 47-35. Westbrook was a little emotional is his speech after receiving his award, but he made sure he said his list full of thank you’s to family, friends, and teammates.
The 2016-17 season was the first time Russell Westbrook played without long-time Thunder teammate Kevin Durant on the same team. During last year’s off-season, Durant decided to jump ship and join the Golden State Warriors after the Thunder were ousted by them in the Western Conference Finals. OKC had a 3-1 lead against Golden State before they allowed them to come back and win the next three games to close out the series.
The departure of Durant left the two superstars with a bitter relationship that was talked about for most of the first-half of the 2016-17 season. Westbrook seemed to use the energy from his former teammate leaving to step his game up to the next level. Although his stellar play was not good enough to win a championship, he did lead the Thunder to the playoffs, where they were eliminated in five games by the Houston Rockets. Russell became the third player in league history to win the MVP award while playing for a team that seeded sixth place or lower during the regular season.
[Featured Image by Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images]