Since the inception of the franchise, the Oklahoma City Thunder has been adamant on building its own history and legacy.
While technically the records and numbers of the Seattle SuperSonics remain with the franchise, the Thunder see themselves as a team who’s first days began in 2008. This is out of respect for the people of Seattle who want to keep their history and for those in Oklahoma City who wish to hold on to their own fortunes.
So much so that Oklahoma City denied the ability to don the gold patches that adorn the back collars of every title-winning team’s jersey in 2014. That of course would have commemorated the Seattle NBA Finals championship won by the franchise back in the 1978-79 season.
“It’s important to this organization, and fans, that we keep separate Oklahoma City records that are set here,” former Thunder public relations director Brian Facchini told NewsOK back in 2008.
But now, history has thrust itself upon the busy street of Reno Ave in downtown Oklahoma City. History in the form of a basketball supernova from sunny southern California — Russell Westbrook.
After notching his 38th triple-double last night in Orlando, Westbrook finds himself three away from tying the legendary Oscar Robertson and four from passing him with eight games remaining.
Once, the question was “will Westbrook do it?” Now transitioned to “when will Westbrook do it?”
Count Robertson along with Thunder and Westbrook fans as one who is rooting for the All-Star Oklahoma City point guard to tie or break the record.
“I hope he gets it (a triple-double average this season),” Robertson said on NBA TV earlier in March. “Why should I care, man? I hope he does. I think it’s great to talk about it.”
Yes, in the Thunder’s head, their history began in 2008. But the NBA has been around since the end of the Second World War — one of the more hallowed achievements in the game is Robertson’s 1961-62 triple-double season.
It would be an excellent gesture from the franchise of Oklahoma City if the Thunder invited Robertson to the two final home games.
The first chance Westbrook has of tying Robertson’s 41 triple-doubles is April 4th in Oklahoma City against the Milwaukee Bucks. To do so he would have to triple-double for the second time ever against San Antonio on Friday night and against the Charlotte Hornets for the first time two days later.
After the Milwaukee game, the Thunder go on the road for four games before the regular season and home finale on April 12th against the Denver Nuggets.
For a franchise so focused on creating its own strong legacy in the post-Seattle move, inviting the “Big O” would be a positive way to tap into the pre-Thunder days of the NBA and bridge the eras between Robertson and Westbrook.
Westbrook has been wise to downplay his triple-doubles in exchange for focusing on team success. While the two are certainly connected — the Thunder are 31-7 when he earns a triple-double — the dynamic guard has only worried about wins and losses. As the season and his historic run has progressed, Westbrook has opened up more and more about the possibility of joining Robertson in basketball legend.
“It’s a blessing to be able to come out every night and compete at a high level,” Westbrook told reporters after he tied Wilt Chamberlain for second in NBA history for triple-doubles in a single season. “To be mentioned with those guys (Chamberlain and Robertson) is truly a blessing.”
It could certainly provide an amazing and emotional scene if Westbrook ties or breaks the record with him in attendance.