NBA.com takes a look back at the top moments that define the history of the NBA.
For 55 seasons, Oscar Robertson stood alone as the only player to average a triple-double for a season.Then Russell Westbrook came along.The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard not only joined the Hall of Famer in the record books, he created his own chapter, accomplishing the triple-double feat in back-to-back seasons. Westbrook ultimately turned in triple-double averages in four of five seasons overall.
In 2016-17, Westbrook not only joined Robertson as the only players in league history to average a triple double for the season, he also broke Robertson’s single-season record for them (41 triple-doubles in 1961-62).
For his efforts that season, the former UCLA standout earned the Kia Most Valuable Player award. The point guard beat out Houston’s James Harden and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard to succeed Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards.During Robertson’s triple-double season, he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game for the Cincinnati Royals. Westbrook finished 2016-17 averaging 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists. But one time was enough for the 6-foot-3 guard, who was selected No. 4 overall in the 2008 Draft.
In 2017-18, Westbrook became the only person in NBA history to average a triple-double for a season twice in a career. This time, the Thunder superstar entered the final two games of the 2017-18 campaign needing 34 total rebounds to average 10 per contest and complete the feat.
Westbrook snared 18 boards against Miami, and needed 16 in the season finale to clinch a triple-double average for the season.
He snared rebound No. 16 with nine minutes left in the third quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies and a standing ovation ensued. He finished with just six points, but had a career-high 20 rebounds and 19 assists.
“I’m very, very thankful and blessed, man, to go out and compete,” Westbrook said then. “Like I’ve said many, many times, I don’t take this game for granted. I don’t take going out on the floor and competing for granted.”
There was some speculation that Westbrook was indeed pursuing the statistical milestone. Westbrook responded by defending his ability to amass the stats in the first place. “A lot of people make jokes about stat-padding rebounds,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “If people could get 20 rebounds every night, they would. If people could get [expletive] 15 rebounds, they would.”