West­brook wins MVP award

The National - News - Sport - - LEADING OFF -

Ok­la­homa City Thun­der point guard Rus­sell West­brook put the fin­ish­ing touch on a fine sea­son by be­ing named the Most Valu­able Player of the 2016/17 cam­paign on Mon­day at the NBA’s in­au­gu­ral awards show.

First since 1961/62

West­brook, who be­came only the sec­ond player and first in 55 years to av­er­age a triple-dou­ble for an en­tire sea­son, won the award over Hous­ton Rock­ets guard James Har­den and San An­to­nio Spurs for­ward Kawhi Leonard. West­brook av­er­aged 31.6 points, 10.4 as­sists and 10.7 re­bounds over 81 games, mak­ing him the first player to av­er­age dou­ble-dig­its in three ma­jor cat­e­gories since Os­car Robert­son first did it in 1961-62.

For all you guys

Af­ter West­brook, 28, was pre­sented with the Mau­rice Podoloff Tro­phy by NBA Com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver, he promptly called his team­mates to the stage. “These guys sac­ri­ficed so much for me through­out the year,” said West­brook. “It was ob­vi­ously an amaz­ing sea­son for me but with­out these guys and the rest of our guys that are not here, none of this would be pos­si­ble. So this award is not for me. This is for all you guys and I am very thank­ful to have you guys in my cor­ner. You guys are my broth­ers for life.”

Si­lenced crit­ics

The Amer­i­can was on a mis­sion from the start of the sea­son as he si­lenced crit­ics who doubted whether he could thrive with­out Kevin Du­rant, who left the Thun­der last July and won an NBA ti­tle with Golden State two weeks ago. West­brook car­ried the Thun­der on a nightly ba­sis, set­ting the new stan­dard by record­ing 42 triple-dou­bles, one bet­ter than the for­mer sin­gle-sea­son mark set by Robert­son. De­spite the loss of Du­rant, a four-times scor­ing cham­pion, the West­brook-led Thun­der recorded 47 wins, just eight fewer than the pre­vi­ous cam­paign.

Best of the rest

The first NBA Awards show fol­lowed years in which the league an­nounced in­di­vid­ual hon­ours sep­a­rately through­out the post-sea­son. Among the night’s other awards, Golden State for­ward Dray­mond Green, two weeks re­moved from win­ning his sec­ond NBA ti­tle in three years, was named the best de­fen­sive player. Mike D’An­toni was named Coach of the Year af­ter lead­ing Hous­ton to 55 wins in his first sea­son with the team. Mil­wau­kee Bucks guard Mal­colm Brog­don was named Rookie of the Year, while Hous­ton Rock­ets guard Eric Gor­don earned the Sixth Man Award for his work off the bench as a sub­sti­tute.

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