Columns

John E. Hoover: Russell Westbrook was made for this MVP award, and this night was made for Russ

John E. Hoover: Russell Westbrook was made for this MVP award, and this night was made for Russ

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook was an indomitable spirit in the NBA this season, and on Monday night was named the league’s Most Valuable Player.
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Monday night was made for Russell Westbrook and, really, vice versa.

The inaugural NBA Player Awards Show, with its red carpet and white-hot spotlight and cornball jokes and hip hop musical acts, was pure Russ, pure Brodie.

Monday’s spectacle at Pier 36 in Manhattan, was ultimately appropriate, a fitting end to a spectacle of a season orchestrated by the one and only Westbrook.

Listen, there’s no denying that Kevin Durant’s 2014 MVP moment was as sweet as sugar, an honest tearjerker, a moving celebration of the man and his mom who put Oklahoma City on the professional sports map.

But that setting just wouldn’t have been as natural for Westbrook. It wouldn’t have been as organic.

It wouldn’t have been Russ.

That’s why the Oklahoma City Thunder’s two MVPs in the last four seasons were apt representations of each man’s self.

Durant is a servant but also a survivor. He’s his own man but also a momma’s boy.

Westbrook is L.A. cool but New York tough. He’s fashion smart but street wise.

With legend Oscar Robertson at his side, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook accepts a trophy for breaking Robertson’s NBA record for triple-doubles in a season. Westbrook was named NBA MVP on Monday.
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Hard to picture Russ thanking the equipment staff and the medical team and everyone in the building while sobbing at his mother. And yet, he almost pulled it off, thanking seemingly even more people than Durant did. And although there were substantially fewer tears, Westbrook’s acceptance speech to his family was every bit as heartfelt.

When Russell Westbrook is anointed Most Valuable Player of the NBA, it should be at the end of a two-hour awards extravaganza and the culmination of a once-in-a-lifetime season.

The result Monday for Mr. Triple Double was predictable. Becoming just the second player to average a triple-double over the course of a season, and breaking Oscar Robertson’s record of 42 triple-doubles in a season (Russ had 43), all while leading the NBA in scoring, could produce only one result: an MVP trophy.

Westbrook beat out former teammate James Harden of Houston and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard. Harden and Leonard’s teams finished way ahead of Westbrook’s in the standings, a factor taken into account by MVP voters.

But the notion that Westbrook’s indomitable one-man-gang performances night in and night out led Oklahoma City to the postseason at all is as much a testament to his greatness as anything Harden or Leonard did.

Without Westbrook, does this year’s Thunder roster even win 20 games?

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook didn’t need another NBA MVP on the roster to win his award. He did it his way.(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Westbrook became the NBA’s first MVP from a sub-50-win (non-strike) team since Moses Malone won it with a 46-win Houston team in 1981-82.

OKC’s win total this year: 47.

That’s all you need to know about Westbrook and his MVP campaign this season.

He did it on his own. He did it by himself. He did it his way.

He didn’t need another MVP on the roster to help him achieve something that no other basketball player ever did.

He’s the real MVP.

 ______

Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.

Columns

Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he's now co-host of "Further Review" on The Franchise Tulsa (weekdays 12-3, fm107.9/am1270) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

More in Columns

Sporting News: The backstory behind Baker Mayfield’s journey from unwanted recruit to probable Heisman winner

John E. HooverNovember 17, 2017

John E. Hoover: What’s the hurry? For a memorable season, Sooners must first make memories

John E. HooverNovember 13, 2017

John E. Hoover: Finally moving on, Sooners defense vs. TCU got younger and better

John E. HooverNovember 12, 2017

Franchise Heisman Watch: It’s Mayfield again, this time with lots of Love

John E. HooverNovember 12, 2017

John E. Hoover: Thanks to Mayfield, Anderson, Sooners remove all doubt

John E. HooverNovember 12, 2017

The Franchise