Russ Is M-V-P...M-V-P...M-V-P
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
How often during this past season did we hear the chant inside Chesapeake Energy Arena?
Russell Westbrook, usually standing at the free throw line with the game in the balance and the fans standing and chanting..."MVP...MVP...MVP."
It's not just a chant anymore.
With NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's announcement Westbrook became the second Oklahoma City Thunder player to be honored as the NBA's Most Valuable Player.
After thanking "the man above" Russ turned his attention to a group of people sitting off to his left.
"First I wanna thank the organization, Mr. (Clay) Bennett, Sam (Presti), Coach (Billy) Donovan, Weav (Asst. GM Troy Weaver), Coach (Mo) Cheeks, I appreciate you guys drafting me number 4 (in the 2008 NBA Draft) when nobody else thought that was a great decision, so I definitely appreciate that."
He brought his teammates who were able to be in New York City up onto the stage to share the spotlight.
"These are my brothers," Westbrook told the crowd. "These guys sacrificed so much for me throughout the year and without these guys here and the rest of our guys who aren't here, without them none of this would be possible."
Thunder shooting guard Victor Oladipo, who won the fan voted "Best Dunk Of The Year Award" was appreciative of Westbrook's gesture.
"It was pretty cool for him to include us up there," Oladipo said. "A lot of people just kinda think he does it all on his own so for him to come out and say that about us is, well it's all that matters really."
Westbrook also thanked the people of Oklahoma, his parents, his brother Ray ( who recently graduated with a Masters degree from OU) and his wife Nina. He was overcome with emotion several times during his speech, letting the armor that protects him during the basketball season fall away.
Westbrook beat out former Thunder teammate James Harden for the award. Russ had 69 first place votes and Harden had 22. He won mostly thanks to a season mostly unlike any other in the history of the NBA.
42 triple-doubles, beating Oscar Robertson's more than half century old record of 41 and becoming just the second player (Robertson being the other) to average a triple double for an entire season.
Now, almost a year after Kevin Durant left and Westbrook asked Presti "What's Next?" Westbrook is faced with another decision.
He didn't want to address the contract extension the Thunder will put in his hands sometime after midnight Saturday morning, telling reporters "tonight is so important for me and obviously the contract and stuff is coming up but it's not really on my mind at the moment."
That sort of non-committal answer might have sent shivers up the spines of Thunder fans but Westbrook has never wavered, never left any doubt about how he feels about the Thunder and Oklahoma City.
Most people who are closest to him and many executives around the NBA believe he will sign the 5-year, $215 million or so "super max" deal the Thunder will offer.
In fact, ESPN's Royce Young wrote this in a story posted late last night on ESPN.com
"Those close to Westbrook fully expect him to take the Thunder's offer, quite possibly at 12:01 am to stabilize the franchise and present a clear road map."
If he doesn't sign it just after midnight on July 1st he might be considering waiting until July 4th, exactly one year after Durant said goodbye.
Thunder fans would prefer he sign it as soon as possible and end any doubt and drama before it has a chance to start.