After Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder by taking the "hardest road" to join the Golden State Warriors, many people expected Russell Westbrook to give up on the team. Instead he locked in with the team for the forseeable future and had a historic season along the way earning him the 2016-17 NBA Most Valuable Player award.
For the first time ever the NBA tried something different with presenting its regular season awards with an award ceremony hosted by Canadian rap mogul Aubrey Drake Graham, or just Drake, on TNT on June 27. At times it was awkward and felt a bit tedious, especially with Nicki Minaj performing, the debate was finally put to rest with Oklahoma City Thunder star point guard winning the 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player award.
Going into the night of the award show Westbrook had serious competition with San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard and former teammate and Houston Rockets guard James Harden also contending for the MVP trophy. But in the end Westbrook, the first player to average a triple-double (31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists) since Oscar Robertson, beat out his opponents and became the second MVP in Oklahoma City history, joining Kevin Durant.
In an emotional speech, Westbrook thanked the "man above" and the organization and coaching staff for taking a chance on him back in 2008 with the fourth pick in the NBA draft, when many analysts believed that he was a reach for the organization when it was still in Seattle. He then proceeded to thank every single member of the Oklahoma City Thunder's staff for allowing him to compete at an MVP caliber level. He then called up teammates Nick Collison, Andre Roberson, Taj Gibson, Enes Kanter and Dunk of the Year winner Victor Oladipo and thanked them and the rest of his team for making it all possible and that the award was not his, it was the team's award. Needless to say Westbrook was extremely thankful to everyone in his life, especially his team and his family, to helping him become the NBA's MVP.
For Westbrook, this trophy validates him on a number of levels. Early on in his NBA career, he was chastised by the media, whether it was for his funky fashion choices or for his style of play, with professional sports troll Skip Bayless coining the phrase "Russell Westbrick", Westbrook silences his haters with this trophy. After Kevin Durant decided to take the "hardest road" by signing with the Golden State Warriors and winning an NBA title the next season, many people thought Westbrook may be on his way out of Oklahoma City; instead he signed a three-year, $85.5 million dollar contract with the Thunder to remain with the team until he reaches 30. This season he pushed toppled Kevin Durant as the "Greatest Player in Thunder History" with a historic season of his own averaging a triple-double.
Westbrook has received tons of praise from around the world, whether it was from teammate Enes Kanter, who called Westbrook the "Real MVP", to pop star Taylor Swift, who made a sweet tribute video to Westbrook (a huge Taylor Swift fan) after he won the award:
The amount of praise and love Westbrook has received this season truly has validated him as the greatest player to ever wear an Oklahoma City Thunder uniform. He did not quit on the team and took the "hardest path" by going back home to Los Angeles or some other super team but instead led by example and at times dragged the team along with him as he sprinted towards the playoffs. Heading into next season Westbrook will still play with the biggest chip on his shoulder and try and average a triple-double for the season again. But, he is the league's 2016-17 MVP and by not giving up on Oklahoma City he really is the "Real MVP".