In the end, Russell Westbrook really didn’t have any competition for NBA MVP. The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard ran away with the award, taking 69 of 101 first-place votes, while former teammate James Harden netted 22, Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs took nine and LeBron James one.
Westbrook, in a shirt and tie but no jacket, walked up to the microphone to accept the Kia NBA Most Valuable Player from league commissioner Adam Silver, and ended up with a number of his Thunder teammates behind him as he thanked various members of the organization, the fans and, yes, the media who Westbrook has always had a contentious relationship with. When it came time to thank his parents, Westbrook became emotional, saying he told himself that he wasn’t going to cry. “I can’t say thank you enough,” he said to his mother and father, talking about his dad waking up early to work two jobs, but always finding the time to shoot hoops with his kids. The MVP took the stage with a piece of paper in his hand reminding who to thank and probably a few notes, but didn’t need it for the heartfelt tribute to his parents, brother and wife.
Westbrook’s 2016-17 season was one for the ages. He became only the second player ever, and first since Oscar Robertson 55 years ago in 1962, to average a triple-double. Westbrook also broke the Hall of Famer’s record for most triple-doubles in a season with 42. He also became the first player since Moses Malone in 1981 to win the award on a team that fell short of 50 wins.
The NBA’s inaugural awards show also featured Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors winning the Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Milwaukee Bucks “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo took home Most Improved Player, his teammate Malcolm Brogdon won Rookie of the Year, Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets won the Sixth Man and Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets won Coach of the Year.
Of course, maybe most importantly, in an award handed out on the red carpet prior to the game Cleveland’s Iman Shumper and Chicago’s Dwyane Wade lost the #BestStyle award to none other than the MVP himself, Westbrook.
Watch Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook comment on being the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.