Like countless Thunder possessions this season, the defining play of the night in Tuesday’s 110–79 win over the Bucks started with Russell Westbrook ripping down a board and peeling off on a fast break himself. Like most others, it lasted less than eight seconds. Like plenty others, it ended with a dart pass deep in the paint for an assist. But unlike the rest, this possession sealed his 41st triple-double of the 2017 campaign, finally putting him level with Oscar Robertson’s landmark 1962 season, at least in volume. It also ties him for fourth-most on the all-time triple-doubles leaderboard with Wilt Chamberl—I’m sorry.
I … I just … I don’t know what we’re even talking about anymore.
I’m going to presuppose that MVP is a two-horse race at this point because, among other things, it is.
I understand that a triple-double is just shorthand for basketballing excellence, and leaves out much of the context. I know it’s just a convenient array of stats, and I see that James Harden is close behind with [lengthens telescope, somewhat haughtily, as far as it’ll go] 20. I appreciate that the head-thumping zealots of the Church of Russ could scare undecideds to the other side of the aisle. I get that no MVP has come from a team that finished outside of the top three in their conference in at least 30 years.
But, you know, fuck that. Did bread always come sliced? Did you always have to physically go to the store, with real paper money to buy it? DID BRICK-AND-MORTAR STORES ALWAYS EXIST?? I’m getting off track. Russ got a standing ovation.
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.” I’m not sure who said that but I’m pretty sure it was either Thomas Jefferson or T.I. on a song from one of many post-jail albums that were not as good as King, and I’m leaning toward the latter. Does that make perfect sense in this context? Probably not. Look, everyone here is improving their team. But we’re arguing between someone who’s admittedly putting up the most clean-burning offensive numbers (Harden), and another who’s leading the league in scoring, pulling a worse supporting cast into the playoffs, and literally rewriting history as he goes along. So it almost does. And you understood what I was trying to say, so stop being difficult.
Russell Westbrook for supreme ruler of the universe, but I’ll settle for MVP.