Rus­sell West­brook wins NBA MVP

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By BRIAN MA­HONEY AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) – Rus­sell West­brook moved past Os­car Robert­son and kept right on go­ing to the top of the NBA.

West­brook was voted MVP on Mon­day night af­ter set­ting a record with 42 triple­dou­bles dur­ing his his­toric sea­son. He led the league with 31.6 points, 10.7 re­bounds and 10.4 as­sists per game, join­ing Robert­son as the only play­ers to av­er­age a triple­dou­ble for the sea­son and break­ing Robert­son's sin­gle-sea­son record of 41 triple-dou­bles in 1961-62. "I re­mem­ber grow­ing up just be­ing home, play­ing the video games and stuff with my pops, and my mom sit­ting there and my brother and just talk­ing about maybe one day I could be the MVP. Ob­vi­ously I was jok­ing at the time," West­brook said.

"But now to be stand­ing here with this tro­phy next to me is a true bless­ing, man, and it's an un­be­liev­able feel­ing, some­thing that I can never imag­ine."

West­brook's vic­tory ended the first NBA Awards show, which in­cluded two wins apiece for the Hous­ton Rock­ets and Mil­wau­kee Bucks.

He re­ceived 69 first-place votes and 888 points to eas­ily beat Hous­ton's James Harden, who had 22 first-place votes and 753 points. Kawhi Leonard was third with nine first-place votes and 500 points. West­brook suc­ceeded Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards. The point guard who plays with de­fi­ance on the court got choked up dur­ing an ac­cep­tance speech in which he brought some teammates onto the stage with him.

The Thun­der went 33-9 when he had a triple-dou­ble, rid­ing West­brook's record run into the play­offs in their first sea­son af­ter los­ing Kevin Du­rant to the Golden State War­riors. "Os­car, guys like him, Magic John­son, those guys, ob­vi­ously I wasn't able to see those guys play, but just to look back at his­tory and see the things that they did, it's some­thing that I looked up to as a kid," West­brook said. "I never thought I would be able to say that I broke Os­car Robert­son's record, and that's just a true bless­ing." Ear­lier, Mil­wau­kee's Mal­colm Brog­don be­came the first player not picked in the first round to win NBA Rookie of the Year in the com­mon draft era, beat­ing out Philadel­phia's Dario Saric and Joel Em­biid.

Brog­don was the No. 36 over­all se­lec­tion out of Vir­ginia. The com­mon draft era be­gan in 1966.

"I think it's an ex­am­ple for guys that are told they are too short, they are not ath­letic enough, they are not real point guards, they are not real shoot­ing guards," Brog­don said. "I just think it's an im­por­tant mes­sage for peo­ple to see, and it can be done. It just takes a lot."

Team­mate Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo won the Most Im­proved Player award.

Hous­ton coach Mike D'An­toni won his sec­ond Coach of the Year award, and the Rock­ets' Eric Gor­don was Sixth Man of the Year af­ter set­ting a record for most 3-point­ers off the bench in his first sea­son as a re­serve.

"Ob­vi­ously I'm just proud of the team and the way they re­sponded all year. Great or­ga­ni­za­tion," D'An­toni said of the Rock­ets' 55win sea­son.

"This is not an in­di­vid­ual award. This is a lot of peo­ple, a lot of hard work goes into it, and I'm the re­cip­i­ent of some pretty good play­ers."

In his first sea­son com­ing off the bench, Gor­don set a sin­gle-sea­son record with 206 3-point­ers by a re­serve. He av­er­aged 16.2 points to help fuel the Rock­ets' run to the sur­pris­ing No. 3 seed in the West­ern Con­fer­ence and edged for­mer NBA Fi­nals MVP An­dre Iguo­dala of Golden State by 32 points.

Golden State's Dray­mond Green won the De­fen­sive Player of the Year, end­ing Leonard's two-year run. Lead­ing the league in steals from his do-ev­ery­thing role with the NBA cham­pi­ons. He had a fran­chis­ere­cord 10 steals in a Feb. 10 game at Mem­phis while record­ing the first triple-dou­ble in NBA his­tory with­out scor­ing in dou­ble fig­ures, adding 11 re­bounds and 10 as­sists.

The NBA for­merly gave out its in­di­vid­ual awards at var­i­ous points through­out the post­sea­son be­fore switch­ing to the awards show this sea­son and pre­sent­ing them all at once in front of the league's top play­ers and stars from the en­ter­tain­ment world.

Two of the best mo­ments came dur­ing seg­ments that didn't in­clude the NBA's six in­di­vid­ual awards.

Bill Rus­sell was pre­sented the first Life­time Achieve­ment award, wel­comed on stage by fel­low Hall of Fame cen­ters Ka­reem Ab­dulJab­bar, David Robin­son, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourn­ing and Dikembe Mu­tombo.

The 11-time cham­pion as a player and the league's first black coach first pointed at them and joked that he would have kicked their butts, then told them: "You have no idea how much re­spect I have for you guys."

For­mer Thun­der as­sis­tant coach Monty Wil­liams was given the SagerStrong Award for the strength he showed af­ter his wife was killed in a car crash in Oklahoma City. He was given a col­or­ful jacket like the ones worn by Craig Sager, the long­time Turner Sports re­porter who died of cancer this past sea­son.


Rus­sell West­brook at the mi­cro­phone

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