Russell Westbrook didn’t triple-double against Memphis on Sunday. Instead, he grabbed 16 rebounds in 21 game minutes, securing a triple-double for the season. FOR. THE. SEASON. Oh yes, it just so happened to be for the second straight year.
What we’ve watched from Westbrook is historic. He’s the only man in NBA history to do it twice. Yet, there are criticisms. Sure, maybe he goes after other people’s rebounds but if you’re going to stand there, staring at the ball like it’s a bright color butterfly, Westbrook is going to get that ball.
“My job is to do everything,” Westbrook said. “That’s what I do. I go out and do everything and I do it on a night-in, night-out basis. Nobody else do the same [expletive] I do every night.”
Westbrook has done something incredible. He’s made triple-doubles a normal, every day statistic. Something that pushed Jason Kidd into the Hall of Fame, Westbrook is being shamed for.
Westbrook’s 104 triple-doubles, 86 in the past three seasons is a mark that surpasses everyone else. What he’s done is made everyone criticism and belittle his accomplishments.
Why? Two reasons:
You could equate a lot of it to his personality. Westbrook is often coarse and sometimes rude with the media when he’s upset. Despite what he does in the community with the Why Not? Foundation and other charitable works, it’s the post game back-and-forth with a reporter that catches ESPN’s eye. That gets the page clicks and turns into revenue. Showing Westbrook opening 40-plus libraries in the Oklahoma City metro isn’t as tantalizing.
He’s made it look so easy and other NBA players have started doing it as well. Since the start of Westbrook’s rookie season, 2008-09, there have been 105 different players who’ve triple-doubled at least once. 52 of them have more than one. Compare that from the previous 10 seasons from 1997-08 to 2007-08, the NBA only saw 91 different players triple-double. It took 12 years for the NBA to match what we’ve seen over the last 10 years.
Everyone is trying it now. LeBron James, arguably the greatest player ever, has been on a tear of triple-doubles. He’s needed them for his team to stay afloat. The saying “LBJ could do it every night if he wanted to.” So, you’re saying one of the greatest players of all-time would have to try to do what Westbrook tries to do? That’s a wonderful compliment to Westbrook.
It’s probably a combination of both. Rubbing people the wrong way. Not catering to the belief you should bite your tongue for the betterment of the reporters or the repercussions. Because when Kidd hit his 100th, NBA.com did a complete breakdown of his triple-double stats. For the record, Kidd is 79-28 all-time when his team triple-double. Westbrook is 86-18.
While Kidd is going to be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. It should be noted, this is what Lawrence Frank, Kidd’s former coach in New Jersey said about his ability to pass Wilt Chamberlain:
“It’s crazy what he does,” Frank said. “I don’t care if he was 13, 23 or 43. To be able to do it at this level consistently, it’s unbelievable. His will is an unbelievable deal. That’s what makes him separate from everyone else.”
Sounds a lot like someone we know and love.
Westbrook’s lore will live on beyond his days. As he moves on, the appreciation for what he does will grow. The idea of “stat stuffing” will fall to the side and the admiration of one the greatest players of our generation will get his full due.
For now, Westbrook is going to do what he does best and that’s do what he wants to do.
As Westbrook says: “Now, I do what I want.”We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Our Podcast is on iTunes. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!