The NBA held its inaugural awards show to hand out the 2016-17 season hardware, highlighted by Russell Westbrook winning his first career MVP.
USA TODAY Sports
Seventy-five days after the final game of the 2016-17 NBA regular season, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has been crowned the league’s Most Valuable Player, winning the award over Houston Rockets guard James Harden and San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.
To commemorate Westbrook’s historic, triple-double-filled campaign, we take a look back at some of the most memorable moments of his season.
The date: October 26, 2016
The moment: Westbrook appeared in a Jordan Brand commercial dancing to Lil Uzi Vert’s song “Do What I Want.”
The significance: The ad, which was perceived by most as a not-so-subtle jab at Kevin Durant for leaving Oklahoma City for Golden State three months earlier, quickly made its rounds on social media. Little did we know that Westbrook would, in fact, spend the next six months doing exactly what he wants.
The date: October 28, 2016 (vs. Phoenix Suns)
The moment: In Oklahoma City’s home opener, Westbrook poured in 51 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists — his first triple-double of the season.
The significance: Westbrook, recording the first 50-point triple-double since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975, wasted no time reminding the Thunder faithful that there’s still plenty to be excited about after Durant’s departure.
The quote: “That’s what he does,” Suns guard Devin Booker said. “He is an aggressive scorer. One of the best players in the league. We knew that coming in here.”
The date: March 29, 2017 (at Orlando Magic)
The moment: Westbrook scored 36 of his 57 points — the most in a triple-double in NBA history — in the second half and overtime and added 13 rebounds and 11 assists.
The significance: The Thunder, down 21 at one point in the third quarter, went on to win the game. It was the largest comeback win in franchise history.
The quote: “He never believes he is out of it or we’re out of it,” said Thunder coach Billy Donovan. “And he plays with an incredible competitive spirit. He plays with an unbelievable spirt. He always has a huge heart, he’s always a huge competitor and he finds ways to make things happen. Overall, it’s incredible what he is doing.”
The date: April 12, 2017
The moment: NBA legend and former triple-double king Oscar Robertson honored Westbrook during a pregame ceremony before Oklahoma City’s final game of the season.
The significance: To have Robertson, whose single-season triple-double records Westbrook broke, recognize the Westbrook and celebrate his greatness spoke to just how historic of a season it was for the Thunder superstar.
The quote: “I can say this without blinking, that what Russell Westbrook has done truly — even (though) Harden is close to him — but what he’s done, he’s got to be the MVP of the league,” Robertson told USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick.
The date: April 9, 2017 (at Denver Nuggets)
The moment: Westbrook hit a game-winning 35-footer at the buzzer, giving him 50 points on the night to go along with 16 rebounds and 10 assists.
The significance: As far as MVP moments go, this was Westbrook’s. He passed Robertson for the most single-season triple-doubles in NBA history (42) midway through the fourth quarter and finished with his third 50-point triple-double of the season, which is one more than any player in NBA history has in his career
The quote: “My motto is ‘why not?’ And I always stick by it, regardless of what people say. … I continue to think ‘why not?’ and continue to strive to be the best I can be,” Westbrook said on the postgame broadcast.
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