Sports

The Spinoff reviews the world outside of New Zealand #1: Russell Westbrook’s historic 42nd season triple-double

We normally review the entire country and culture of New Zealand, one thing at a time etc. But today an anonymous Spinoff writer was in Denver, witnessing NBA history.

Russell Westbrook has been tied with Oscar Robertson for most triple-doubles in a regular season at 41 apiece since the Thunder wasted the Bucks at home on April 4th. Since then he’s come tantalisingly close to breaking the record on two occasions, surprising everyone by not getting a triple-double for once. I assume he held out because he knew that I’d be watching the Thunder play the Nuggets in Denver today.

It has to be noted that for a Denver home game, the Nuggets fans were almost out-cheered by the small crowd of Thunder fans. Of course Westbrook was going to break the record in an away game and steal the Thunder – wink wink – from the Nuggets, regardless of the outcome.

I had seen his last three triple-doubles and even though a triple-double is always amazing and impressive, Westbrook wasn’t performing like the superstar his stats would suggest.

But today he did. Scoring almost at will, he’d stacked up 25 points by halftime. And 10 rebounds. And 6 assists. It was a given that he’d break the record, even if the Thunder inevitably lost because the rest of his team weren’t performing too great.

At the start of the 4th quarter, only one assist was needed and the whole arena was standing, and then sitting, and then standing again, and then sitting again, and finally erupting when Semaj Christon hit a baseline 3 to bring up Westbrook’s record 43rd triple-double. It’s quite a sound to hear an away crowd chanting MVP for their opponent but that’s the power of Russ.

What a moment to witness. What an occasion. Can’t get any better than this. Oh, but remember how they were losing? Westbrook wasn’t going to let a silly thing like an L dampen his big moment. Instead, he came to life in the final minutes, bringing Thunder back to within four points with half a minute remaining. Then he sank a clutch layup, of course. Then he grabbed a clutch rebound (no stat padding rebounds here) with two seconds to go and down by two. And then of course, OF COURSE, he sank a deep clutch three at the buzzer to snatch the win, the record, and my frail heart.

Seems weird to feel humbled by a stranger’s athletic ability but that’s how I feel right now. Breathless. Might just be Denver’s high altitude, though.

Verdict: Russell Westbrook broke a historical record in the most Westbrook of fashions.

Good or bad: MVP good.