The work is only commencement for Oklahoma City and the MVP

11:27 PM ET


NEW YORK — The final hopeful to uncover up, Russell Westbrook incited a dilemma with his mother and rolled his eyes during a bank of watchful cameras and reporters.

With a elementary white shirt, a gray tie, purple shades and coupler slung over his shoulder — Westbrook’s understated outfit was a biggest dissapoint of a night — he glanced during a red runner and shook his head. The male of a night skipped a cameras, a posing and a questions and headed inside.

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Russell Westbrook, after apropos a initial actor given Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 to normal a triple-double, was awarded a NBA’s MVP award, garnering 69 of 101 first-place votes.

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  • Despite his character and peep on a floor, Westbrook isn’t one for crowds, or a spotlight. But he couldn’t totally shun it, as about dual hours after he walked onstage during a initial ever NBA Awards uncover during Basketball City to accept a prize for many profitable player. Westbrook grinned, and, violation a standard, he was indeed a small long-winded.

    He thanked God, he thanked Thunder owners Clay Bennett, ubiquitous manager Sam Presti and manager Billy Donovan. He thanked a film guys, a trainers, a support staff. He called his teammates who were in assemblage — Enes Kanter, Andre Roberson, Taj Gibson, Victor Oladipo and Nick Collison — onstage.

    Westbrook thanked a fans, his representative and, finally, his family.

    “Without we guys, we don’t know where we would be,” Westbrook said. “I can’t be station here yet your support, your sacrifice. Starting with my parents.”

    He fought behind tears and pulled off a shades.

    “I told myself we wasn’t going to cry,” he said. Then some-more tears came when he talked about his wife, Nina.

    It was an romantic impulse for Westbrook, a loyal feat for one of a good loser stories ever, and a cherry on tip and a correct accession for one of a many conspicuous seasons in NBA history.

    It was a devise enacted and executed. It started final August, with Westbrook signing an prolongation in a arise of Kevin Durant‘s departure. He became a unaccepted people’s champ, a actor who went from polarizing to being cheered in highway arenas opposite a league.

    Before a season, Westbrook eyed a MVP. A devise was grown to assist his discuss — repository cover stories, interviews. The kinds of things Westbrook had always resisted. That was partial new role, holding on a solitary front-facing authorization responsibility, yet also to assistance build and keep momentum.

    But for any of it to work, Westbrook had to make himself an tangible candidate. He did that by creation history, and capping it all off by a final two-week flurry of MVP impulse after MVP moment.

    It was a idea to win, and while Westbrook’s concentration of march remained on a Thunder winning games, as he sealed in on a MVP, he wanted it. In year one yet Kevin Durant, Westbrook constructed something memorable, something that will mount a exam of competition history. It was a deteriorate that transcended a game. It was a sum eclipse, something substantially seen customarily once in a lifetime. Westbrook didn’t erase a pain and heartbreak of Durant’s leaving, yet he did somehow make it seem reduction important. Which was maybe his biggest feat of them all.

    But with all of that finished and a book finally sealed on his 2016-17 season, hardware in hand, it’s a same dual difference Westbrook asked following a depart of his All-Star teammate: What’s next?

    <!– Before a season, after Westbrook had sealed his prolongation with a Thunder to turn a unaccepted People's Champ of a NBA, a PR devise was grown by a Oklahoma City Thunder to assistance his MVP campaign.

    Magazine cover stories, interviews and all else. But for any of it to work, Westbrook had to make himself an tangible MVP candidate. He did that by engineering one of a many ancestral seasons in NBA history, capped off by a final two-week flurry of MVP impulse after MVP moment.

    It was a idea to win, and while Westbrook’s unaccompanied concentration remained on a Thunder winning games, as he sealed in on a MVP, he wanted it.

    In year one yet Kevin Durant, Westbrook constructed something memorable, something that will mount a exam of sports history. It was a deteriorate that transcended a game. It was a sum eclipse, something substantially seen customarily once in a lifetime. Westbrook didn’t erase a pain and heartbreak of Durant’s leaving, yet he did somehow make it seem reduction important; maybe that was his biggest feat of them all.

    But with all of that finished and a book finally sealed on his 2016-17 season, hardware in hand, what’s next? –>


    The irony for Westbrook is for a Thunder to get to where they wish to go, he can’t ever have another deteriorate like this one.

    For all a refreshing one-man-banding and iconoclastic hero-balling — a things that won him his MVP — there’s belligerent to be gained. Westbrook needs to consort a Thunder’s offense more. There has to be some-more diversity. There has to be reduction faith on him, and a some-more distributed, offset attack.

    But this deteriorate was a routine for Westbrook and a Thunder. It was innate out of astonishing circumstances, and Westbrook spent a deteriorate adjusting, and learning.

    Westbrook also suffocated his possess register during times. Some of a immature players, Domantas Sabonis namely, didn’t swell via a deteriorate as anticipated. The Thunder are invested in their youth, both to rise internally to urge a group on a building and also for power outmost use, as in flipping them as resources in a blockbuster trade.

    The Thunder have eyes on adding a second star to assistance Westbrook, either that could be Westbrook’s former college roommate during UCLA, Kevin Love, or even a power one-year let of Paul George. Armed with sign-and-trade options, they will wish to report free-agency meetings with hometown man Blake Griffin and/or Gordon Hayward, meaningful they’re prolonged shots.

    Westbrook has never been an active recruiter in past offseasons — that was a purpose Durant took on for a Thunder — yet is pronounced to be vehement about it this summer.

    If a Thunder come adult dull on best-laid plans, though, it will be on Westbrook, and a pieces around him, to takes stairs forward.

    Westbrook’s deteriorate and a growth of a register was a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg discuss within a group this past season: Did his teammates case since his determined wasn’t permitting them to improve, or did he take over out of prerequisite since of a injured roster?

    The law substantially lies somewhere in between. Westbrook certified via a deteriorate he indispensable to engage his teammates more, yet also had a tough time vouchsafing go when games started to trip away. Westbrook has prolonged fought a conflict of perplexing to do too many contra anticipating trust in those around him. In that context, those within a group predict a new and softened Westbrook entrance subsequent season.

    “Russ is going to be so many softened subsequent year,” partner ubiquitous manager Troy Weaver pronounced during a season. “He’s been good — well, been good — yet he’s going to be so many some-more comfortable. This is a initial year, he’s had to try this shoe on. Next year, he’s going to be so many some-more gentle in these situations.

    “What’s humorous is he’s personification unusual this year, yet we don’t know if a numbers or a deteriorate are going to be as good, yet we design him to take a flattering large burst subsequent year.”

    Thunder GM Sam Presti has always envisioned an intelligent, eminent basketball team, one that functions on potency and tactics. That’s a tough thing to combine with a actor like Westbrook, who, make no mistake, is as intelligent as they come, yet also a swashbuckling basketball radical who will go brute on offense during a initial glance of daylight.

    But that’s a developmental concentration for a Thunder and Westbrook going into subsequent season: shot redistribution into higher-efficiency places. Westbrook can get any shot he wants during any time he wants. And he can customarily get his teammates a same.

    It’s not that a Thunder were lacking in talent — there’s utterly a lot on a register — yet it’s adult to Westbrook to operative his possess help. Rising tides rises all offenses, if we will.

    Westbrook customarily averaged a triple-double for a season, accomplishing one of a biggest basketball feats ever, and there’s copiousness of room for him to get better.

    Every season, Westbrook has improved, yet this many new one was an outlier. It was a deteriorate of survival, and Westbrook took on a plea headstrong. He willed his group to 47 wins. He pushed himself as distant as he could. He packaged his 34 mins a diversion with as many power and rival suggestion as he presumably could. He embodied clearly each interpretation of a “V” in “most profitable player.”

    But there’s some-more to give, and that competence come from giving something up.


    But before all of that “what’s next?” talk, there’s a distant some-more dire matter for Westbrook. The Thunder will offer him a brand-new, five-year prolongation — Westbrook is sealed in for 2017-18 — when a time strikes midnight on Jul 1, creation him one of a highest-paid players in NBA history, should he take it. It would vigilance a finish fasten to a Thunder, with Westbrook shucking any thoughts of fasten a super-team elsewhere to take on a Golden State Warriors juggernaut, as he embarks on a goal to slay a hulk on his possess terms.

    Those tighten to Westbrook entirely design him to take a Thunder’s offer, utterly presumably during 12:01 a.m., and stabilise a authorization and benefaction a transparent highway map. Westbrook sealed an prolongation final summer and invoked a word “loyalty” for a reason. He wanted to make a matter — a open stipulation — and take on a weight of heading a authorization forward.

    He likes a existent register and has a tighten attribute and certainty in Presti and Weaver. He has built a clever bond with conduct manager Billy Donovan. He knew what he sealed for and, with a Thunder entrance off a successful initial post-Durant deteriorate and with pieces in place to urge a team, there are a lot of reasons to dedicate again.

    But what if Westbrook says no?

    Should he reject a offer, a Thunder will be confronting a same doubt as final summer: Do we risk vouchsafing your star travel for zero in return? Or do a Thunder do a inconceivable and trade a reigning MVP?

    This is something a Thunder are wakeful of but, according to sources, aren’t actively entertaining. That’s a overpass they’ll cranky if and when they get there.

    For now, they are celebrating their MVP and a ancestral deteriorate he had, and portrayal a flattering design of their a destiny together.


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