In case you didn’t know, Russell Westbrook won some sort of award last night. Here’s some Thunder news related to that and other things on DTR.
Royce Young’s write up on Westbrook MVP coronation: “It was a goal to win, and while Westbrook’s focus of course remained on the Thunder winning games, as he closed in on the MVP, he wanted it. In year one without Kevin Durant, Westbrook produced something memorable, something that will stand the test of sport history. It was a season that transcended the game. It was a total eclipse, something probably seen only once in a lifetime. Westbrook didn’t erase the pain and heartbreak of Durant’s leaving, but he did somehow make it seem less important. Which was maybe his greatest achievement of them all. But with all of that done and the book finally closed on his 2016-17 season, hardware in hand, it’s the same two words Westbrook asked following the departure of his All-Star teammate: What’s next?”
Westbrook and Harden share a history that intersects way before they both played in Oklahoma City: “Russell was short and skinny. His dad was Big Russ, so they called him Little Russ. But Little Russ’ broad shoulders, gangly arms and clown-sized shoes hinted toward something bigger. Deric Daniels, then just starting out as the director of teen programs at Challengers Boys & Girls Club in South Central Los Angeles, couldn’t help but notice 10-year-old Russell’s big feet and even bigger grin. “Man, what size shoe you wear?” Daniels asked. “A 10 or so,” Russell Westbrook said. “You know,” Daniels told him, “one day, you’re going to grow into those shoes.” There was another kid there, James, who stalked the same court while his mother, Monja Willis, spent her mornings volunteering. James was more stocky than speedy, with what Daniels described as a “slow and old-man game,” at age nine. That, along with his big eyes, caught Daniels’ attention.”
Berry Tramel looks at Westbrook’s journey from July 4th last year to now: “Russell Westbrook, with a spring in his step and a smile on his face, bolted onto the blue carpet that led to Chesapeake Arena last Aug. 4. The day was hot and sunny. And still a cloud lifted. Oklahoma City had been in a month-long pall. You know why. Gloom, despair and agony on us. Then word trickled out that Westbrook was going to sign a one-year contract extension, and soon enough the entire state had gathered in downtown OKC, in spirit if not in body, to celebrate Westbrook’s announcement that he would rather fight than switch.”
Brett Dawson focused on the season Westbrook had: “Once, it seemed unlikely the NBA ever would embrace Russell Westbrook this way. The Thunder guard stood on stage Monday night at Basketball City and accepted the league’s 2016-17 Most Valuable Player award. The trophy was presented by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver with former winners looking on at the first-ever NBA Awards show. “I can’t hold this,” Westbrook said, and handed the trophy back to Silver. There was a list of people to thank.”
Erik Horne looked at Westbrook win through the eyes of league history: “Like his unpredictable style and monumental regular-season performances, Westbrook’s win defied convention yet again on Monday. With the victory, Westbrook became the first player since Moses Malone to win the MVP award while playing for a team which finished lower than third in its conference. Only Westbrook, Malone (twice, 1978-79 and 1982-83) and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar (1975-76) have pulled off the feat.”
Overall, it was a great night for the Thunder. Hopefully something to build on as the Thunder head into next season.