Russdiculous Hist0ry At The Peake
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
So where were you when it happened?
When a kid who grew up in L.A. and has been “adopted” by about 3.5 million Oklahomans did something most of those folks had never seen before?
It’s been 55 years since Oscar Robertson did something so amazing no one knew exactly what to call it, and it hasn’t happened since.
Until now at least.
41 NBA games with double digits in points, rebounds and assists. Something we’ve now come to call a triple-double.
Robertson accomplished the feat in his 76th game during the 1961-62 season. Russell Westbrook did it in his 77th game during the 2016-17 season and he’s not done yet, the Thunder still have five more games to play.
So where were you when it happened?
Were you inside a sold-out and rocking Chesapeake Energy Arena? I hope you were because you saw it all in person and heard it and felt it when the crowd roared and chanted M-V-P...M-V-P...M-V-P.
Or were you at least in Bricktown watching inside one of the bars or restaurants? Toasting Russ when the moment came.
Or perhaps you were at home watching on TV, privately jumping up and down and screaming, acting like a kid again because you couldn’t quite believe what you’d just seen.
I was fortunate enough to be sitting right where I’ve been for most every Thunder home game during every season they’ve played here, courtside, smack in the middle of press row.
Soaking it all in.
It happened in the 3rd quarter, a big looping pass from just inside half court to Taj Gibson down low who went up and scored.
Immediately the crowd roared, thanks to social media and stats apps fans already knew Russ just needed one more assist. The game went on for a few more seconds after the 9:17 mark and then a timeout was called and the public address announcer told the fans what they already knew. Their adopted son from LA had tied the record of a legend, a Hall of Famer.
Afterwards, back in the lockerroom Westbrook was asked about the moment.
“It’s a special night I won’t ever forget. I’m just truly honored to do it here in Oklahoma City in front of the best fans in the world.”
Thunder coach Billy Donovan, who admits he’s never paid much attention to triple doubles until this season, said “For Russell to do what he’s done is remarkable, something our entire team could share in. I think Russell was really humbled and the fans were incredible.”
I was just a kid during Oscar’s magical season and a very small one at that. No one in Waurika, Oklahoma, knew what a triple double was and not that many paid much attention then to the NBA.
So this was something I’d never seen before and now it’s about as close to a dead lock certainty that Westbrook will break the record, maybe Wednesday night in Memphis or Friday night in Phoenix. And he will also finish the season averaging a triple double, again something that has been done only once by Oscar Robertson.
To put what’s happened in perspective, think about this. 10 teams in the NBA haven’t collected as many triple doubles in their entire histories as Westbrook has this season.
He finished the night with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists. But for him the more important numbers were 110-79, a rousing Thunder win, a total demolition of a good Milwaukee Bucks team that should make the playoffs.
The Thunder played excellent defense limiting the Bucks to just 35.8 percent shooting overall and 16.7 percent (3-for-18) on threes.
The offense clicked too, 47.6 percent shooting, 29 assists and a 39 point lead late in the game, the biggest of the season.
Fans seated near the Thunder bench stayed after the game cheering and waving and chanting, then quieting down so ESPN could do an interview with number 0. As soon as it finished the chants came again...loud and long...M-V-P...M-V-P...M-V-P.
That award won’t announced for a couple more weeks. Could the kid from LA, the adopted Oklahoman win it? The second member of the Thunder to take home an NBA MVP trophy?
Well as Russ might say...Why Not?