And the NBA’s Most Valuable Player is….Russell Westbrook! During the very first NBA Awards, Russ beat out James Harden and Kawhi Leonard to be named the best player in the league!
After an explosive NBA season that saw the Golden State Warriors crush the Cleveland Cavaliers’ hopes of winning two-consecutive NBA Championships, the NBA MVP race came down to three players from three other teams: Russell Westbrook, 28, from the Oklahoma City Thunder; James Harden, 27, from the Houston Rockets; and Kawhi Leonard, 25, from the San Antonio Spurs. As the evening wound down, the tension cranked up until the final moment of the evening. When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, 55, opened up the envelope, there was only one name: Russell Westbrook!
Except, Russell couldn’t accept this award on his own. The Thunder star brought up some of his teammates, giving thanks to those who allowed him to “compete at a very high level.” Though he was being honored as the best of the best, Russell knew that he got there due to a team effort. “Lastly, I want to thank my family. Without you guys, I don’t know where I would be,” he said with a smile on his face, before holding back tears while discussing the sacrifice his parents made so he and his brother could have a better life. He called his brother — “who just got his masters” — his role model. Then, he gave love to his wife, Nina Earl. That attitude — more than his stats — is why he’s definitely the MVP.
Russell went into the inaugural NBA Awards as the heavy favorite to win the award. Though the OKC Thunder didn’t have the greatest of seasons, Russell broke a 50-plus-year-old record by scoring 42 triple-doubles in the 2017-18 season. Plus, Russ became the first player since Oscar Robertson, 78, in 1962 to average a triple-double. Russell finished the season with 31.6 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game and 10.4 assists per game. So, for many, the MVP argument had been wrapped up even before the first NBA playoff game started.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 27, 2017
Now, there were early arguments that James Harden – one who some thought was a more well-rounded player who had a stronger, positive influence on his team’s overall offense – was more deserving of the award. The same arguments were also made about Kawhi and his influence on the Spurs. The Rockets nearly swept the Thunder in the 2017 NBA Playoffs, before ultimately falling to the Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals. Golden State would demolish San Antonio, before advancing to claim their second NBA title in three years. If a MVP was someone who racked up more W’s, well — Kawhi and James had Russ beat.
With the NBA Draft done and this awards show all wrapped up, that’s pretty much it for basketball until the 2017-18 season (unless some major trades happen in the off-season, like how Kevin Durant, 28, jumped ship from the Thunder to the Warriors.) Basketball fans won’t have to wait for long, though. The next regular season kicks off on Oct. 20, 2017. Just a few months away. Who will be the best player of next season? Will Russ break his own Triple-Double record? We’ll have to wait and see.
Do you think the right player won the MVP, HollywoodLifers?