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Westbrook’s record-tying season make him one of the GOATs

Russell Westbrook just raised a flag bearing his name, his signature smirk and the words of his house on the top of one of NBA’s most unreachable peaks.

Even before their game (number 77) against the Milwaukee Bucks ended, the Oklahoma City guard already logged his 41st triple-double of the season, tying the record for most triple-doubles in a season, a feat that has stood for a whopping (whopping, whopping) 55 years!

It is not as if NBA enthusiasts did not see this coming, but it is still amazing to see a player pull it off. Procuring a triple-double in a one, single game is hard for any player, since it involves scoring, rebound and setting up teammates for easy buckets. Now realize that Westbrook just did it for half a season, and he did it in the way only the Brodie knows how: enraged, rampant, and downright destructive.

The last time an NBA player recorded 41 triple-doubles in a single season was in the 1961-1962 term, when Oscar Robertson of the Cincinnati Royals averaged a triple-double, which is also a feat Westbrook is close to breaking. The Big O averaged a per night sheet of 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game that season, while Westbrook, after Game 77, had a stat line of 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per outing.

Other legends came close to entering that hyper-elite, one-man club. The 80s icon Magic Johnson had three seasons of averaging at least 16 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.6 assists per night, and his Airness Michael Jordan once posted 32.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists per match. Even LeBron James, who is averaging 27 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists, in his career, never averaged a triple-double for a season.

Most great players were allowed a peek into Robertson’s lonesome party, but none were allowed to pass, that is, until Westbrook decided to jump on a Panzer and ram the gates down with the hopes of etching the second face on that triple-double Mount Rushmore.

FORESHADOWING

When Kevin Durant broke the hearts of the Oklahoma City faithful and signed with the 73-9 Warriors in the last off-season, everybody said it was because Westbrook was holding him back, that because Westbrook was too selfish, too overeager, too unpredictable, too Westbrook. Durant thought he could not mix a winning combination with his point guard.

But the same can be said in reverse.

Without Durant, Westbrook was able to unleash the bigger, badder, more explosive beast. Sure, some nights he padded his stats a little, but most nights he needed to go nuclear to push his team to win. It is almost exactly like when Durant was still with the team: When the lightning was without its thunder, the City falls, or when the thunder rumbles but had no lightning to scare enemies away, the City falls. Now OKC only have the thunder, and what lightning they have left cannot even light a brush on fire.

Need proof? How about this – Not only are the Thunder more pleasing to watch when Westbrook goes on a tear and finish a one-on-five fastbreak with a palm-shattering tomahawk jam, they also wield a great winning percentage in Westbrook’s triple-double nights.

The Thunder are currently 45-33, an overall winning rate of 57.7%, which is good enough for the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff seeding. But when Russ channels his inner “Big O” and logs that sweet stat-sheet stuffer, they win 78.0% of the time. It’s not exact science, but who can still say that he hurts his team when he chases numbers?

Is Westbrook better than Robertson? Yup, miles away better since the game has evolved along with the players, though the Big O’s kill shot from 15 feet is one of the deadliest weapons in history. How about Magic? Not in winning titles. Than MJ? God no. Than LeBron? In dunking, sure, in anything else, nope. Than Durant? In basketball, no, in loyalty, certainly yes.

The last 55 years saw legends rise and fall, but only Westbrook, no matter what influenced this supernova of a season, is the only one who did what many thought cannot be done.