Before tipoff against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, the Thunder held a brief ceremony at midcourt recognizing Russell Westbrook and his historic 2016-17 season. Joining the ceremony was Oscar Robertson, the all-time great whose single-season record for triple-doubles Westbrook broke on Sunday.
“When Russell was on this journey, I just felt I had to be here,” Robertson said. “What he’s done is historic in nature. … You people should really be proud of him.”
Robertson ended his brief speech by saying, “I just have one more thing to say: M-V-P.” Robertson said earlier in the season he was rooting for Westbrook to break his triple-double mark, and he wrote a column for The Undefeated congratulating the star guard for the accomplishment earlier this week.
Westbrook is the first player since Robertson in 1961-62 to average a triple-double for an entire season. Westbrook broke Robertson’s mark of 41 triple-doubles in a season on Sunday in Denver, capping it with a game-winning buzzer-beater to eliminate the Nuggets from playoff contention.
With his teammates standing around him, along with Thunder owner Clay Bennett and general manager Sam Presti, Westbrook took the microphone and thanked Robertson for attending Wednesday night’s ceremony. He also thanked his teammates, coaching staff and fans.
Westbrook also was presented a trophy from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame commemorating his triple-double achievement.
“It’s obviously an unbelievable honor, not just for me, but overall just having him here,” Westbrook said of Robertson being in attendance. “It’s a blessing in of itself. Like I’ve said before, it’s something I could never dream about, especially to have it happen here in Oklahoma City, so it’s great.”
Asked if he’s able to appreciate his achievement now or needs some time to process it, Westbrook replied, “It’s never too soon to be blessed for things that you’ve done
. I think of it differently, I think it’s all blessings coming from the man above, to put me in situations where I’m able to be here with Oscar Robertson, to be here in Oklahoma City, to do different things on the basketball floor. So I enjoy every moment of it and embrace each moment.”
Before the game, Westbrook and Robertson, who had met prior to Wednesday night, spoke and took pictures with the star guard’s family present.
“It was a different era and time and things, but what you’re doing, I think, is historic,” Robertson told Westbrook. “People see it, they love it. … I think it’s great for basketball, and great for you and your family.”
The Thunder rolled a video highlighting all-time historic sports moments, including Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak, Serena Williams’ Grand Slam titles and Emmitt Smith’s career NFL rushing record.
“It’s an honor,” Westbrook said of the video. “I don’t know any other way to describe that. A lot of those guys, I don’t know, I never saw them play, but I know they did amazing things in other sports. So just to be mentioned in the same sentence with some of those guys is an honor in of itself.”
The original plan for the ceremony included having other history-making athletes, such as Cal Ripken Jr. and Smith, attend. Westbrook, though, nixed that idea, wanting the focus to be as much on Robertson and his accomplishments as a Hall of Famer as himself.
Westbrook played only the first half of the Thunder’s 111-105 loss Wednesday night. He was on pace for another triple-double, with eight assists, five points and five rebounds in 18 minutes, before resting in the second half.
Oklahoma City ends the regular season at 47-35 and will match up as the 6-seed against the Houston Rockets in the opening round of the playoffs, with tipoff set for Sunday night in Houston. For the first time since Westbrook’s second season, he’ll enter the opening round as an underdog.
“It don’t matter,” Westbrook said. Source: espn