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Russell Westbrook and the Most Awkward MVP Announcement Ever

Russell Westbrook and the Thunder may have lost, but he was dominant again in the playoffs. Unfortunately, basketball fans will have to wait and see if Russ really is the MVP. It’s weird

By Charles ManiegoPublished 7 years ago 3 min read
NBAE via Getty Images

On Tuesday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder were eliminated from the NBA Playoffs. They lost Game 5 in their first round series with the Houston Rockets, ending a season largely marked by the emergence (MVP-mergence?) of Russell Westbrook. The destruction that Westbrook laid upon opponents in the regular season was historic. He was the life force of an Oklahoma City team constructed under the assumption of Kevin Durant returning to the team. (Spoiler — Durant did not play for the Thunder this season.)

Westbrook was brilliant in this year’s playoffs as well. He took his triple-double play into the postseason, scoring 37.4 points, grabbing 11.6 rebounds and assisting 10.8 times per game in his five playoff games. He was first in scoring and assists among all playoff participants and fourth in playoff rebounding (he’s a point guard). He may not have been the most efficient player (38.8% shooting with 6.0 turnovers per game), but Westbrook was a key factor for the Thunder appearing competitive against a talented and motivated Rockets squad.

As the series wore on, people began to question both Billy Donovan and Westbrook’s teammates. Westbrook infamously chewed out a reporter after Game 4 when Steven Adams was asked about the team’s struggles without Russ on the floor. While he may have been the nucleus, mitochondria, ribosomes and lysosome of the Thunder, Westbrook made it clear that the Thunder both won and lost as a team. Not only is Westbrook likely the league’s Most Valuable Player, he may be the Most Valuable Teammate as well.

With Westbrook out of the playoffs, that leaves him and the NBA in an awkward position. Westbrook is the lead candidate for the NBA’s MVP award. Las Vegas currently has Westbrook at -600 for MVP odds (James Harden is 2nd, at +500, with LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard far behind). Traditionally, the MVP award has been announced in the first week of May, or right after the conclusion of the first round of playoff games. Votes have already been cast, and ballots have likely been tallied for all of the NBA’s awards. But Westbrook, Harden, and all the other award hopefuls will have to wait two more months.

This season, the awards format is different. On April 3rd, the NBA announced that the first ever NBA awards show will be hosted on June 26th in New York City. This will be at least a week removed from the last game of the NBA Finals (Game 7 of last year’s Cavaliers-Warriors Finals matchup was played on June 19th). With this, the NBA has decided to make its awards announcements essentially the Oscars of basketball. Or at least a better version of the ESPYs.

The regular season MVP will be announced after the Finals MVP. Think about that for a second. Strange.

The announcement will come nearly two months after Westbrook’s last game, essentially taking away all the drama of seeing “the MVP” on the floor. There will be no MVP press conferences in between major playoff games. NBA Fans will be basking in the post-Finals glow, or salivating over their draft picks (the NBA Draft will be held on June 22nd, four days before the awards show). Westbrook, Harden, James and Leonard won’t be amidst playoff battles — they’ll probably be relaxed and in offseason mode.

It’s understandable. The MVP announcement in May could have taken fan’s attention away from dramatic playoff games. Having the awards show in June allows the NBA to stay in the collective consciousness of fans for at least one more week before a four month layoff. Who knows, maybe the awards show includes a “La La Land for Best Picture” fiasco (I’m sure someone has Photoshopped Russell Westbrook onto that Oscars picture already).

Russell Westbrook’s sheer dominance this season challenged history, and showed how important one player can be to a team. With Westbrook out of the playoffs, the NBA will be missing their likely MVP award winner. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Westbrook will win the award. Westbrook, Thunder fans and NBA fans will have to wait a long two months to receive that confirmation. It’s complicated.


About the Creator

Charles Maniego

Basketball, Society, Science & Medicine. Unbalanced.🍦🔬🏀🤼 ✈🤷🤙🏽


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