Russell Westbrook must wait another month before he learns whether he’ll get the MVP endorsement from the voting panel. But the Oscar Robertson anointment is already in the books.
“I think it’s Westbrook,” said The Big O to ESPN.com. “That’s what I think. Years ago it was tough to win the MVP because it was based on winning championships.”
Westbrook is on pace to average a triple double for an entire season, which would match Robertson, the last and only man to do so. Robertson might be feeling sympathetic to Westbrook because Robertson, despite the triple-double, didn’t win MVP in 1961-62. It went to Bill Russell.
However: It’s debatable whether voters gave it Russell on the basis of championships, since the votes are collected before the playoffs even begin. Also that season, Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points a game and didn’t win it, either, so maybe Robertson has a point.
“It’s changed now,” said Robertson. “A lot of people know what an MVP means. They understand basketball better than they did years ago.”
Also, last month at the NBA All-Star Game during an interview with NBA TV, Robertson repeated what he said to ESPN, that he’d like Westbrook to finish the season with a triple double. The OKC guard, who collected his 39th triple-double on Friday night, is now at 31.8, 10.6 and 10.4 and it would take a rather significant slump for him to not repeat Robertson’s feat with only two weeks left in the season.
“I always thought he was a great basketball player,” Robertson said. “I was talking to some basketball people and I said I don’t think any of these guards can beat him in a one-on-one basketball game. I think he’s been tremendous for his team, the fans and also for television.”
Here’s a twist: In that interview with NBA TV, Robertson was asked which player in the game reminds him of a younger him. Robertson’s choice: James Harden, considered the strongest threat to Westbrook’s MVP chances.