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.
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?
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.