Russell Westbrook Breaks Triple-Double Record in Westbrookian Fashion

Russell Westbrook AFP

Russell Westbrook notched more triple-doubles this season than all but seven NBA players did in their entire careers.

And two regular-season games remain for the Oklahoma City Thunder guard, which gives him the opportunity to make the list a mere six by passing Fat Lever’s 43 career triple-doubles this season.

Westbrook broke Oscar Robertson’s 55-year-old record of 41 triple-doubles in a season Sunday night. And he put an exclamation point on the 50-point, 16-rebound, 10-assist game by sinking a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Denver Nuggets.

More remarkable than Westbrook’s performance was the appreciation of it. When was the last time you saw an NBA arena give a standing ovation to a road player who not only beat their team at the buzzer but in doing so eliminated them from a chance at the playoffs?

This never happens because the season Westrbook enjoys never happens. It’s once in a lifetime. Or, if you remember The Big O’s 1961-1962 campaign, perhaps twice in a lifetime. Westbrook joins Robertson as the only players in NBA history to average a triple-double in a season. And, strangely, like Robertson, a large number of MVP voters seek to give the year-end award to another player. At least Robertson can note that Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50 points and 25 boards that season–and he didn’t win the MVP award, either. Should Westbrook lose the vote, he can only point to competitors enjoying really good seasons–not historic ones.

“I’ve got to give all the thanks from the man above,” Westbrook humbly explained to reporters after Sunday’s win. “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.”

Downplaying his accomplishments makes Russell Westbrook a good guy. Downplaying his accomplishments makes MVP voters look as foolish as anyone guarding Russell Westbrook.