The final night of the 2016-17 NBA regular season started with a legendary meet-and-greet for Russell Westbrook.
Before Oklahoma Cityhosted the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, theThunder point guard sat downwith the only other player in NBA history to averagea triple-double for a full season, Oscar Robertson:
— NBA (@NBA) April 12, 2017
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The Big O congratulated Westbrook on his accomplishment and had a brief message for the MVP candidate:
Russell Westbrook meets The Big O, Oscar Robertson! pic.twitter.com/EU0PE10FlS
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) April 12, 2017
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) April 12, 2017
"Congratulations. I'm really happy for you,"Robertson said as the two met. He then demurred after Westbrook thanked him for paving the way. "It was a different era and time and things, but whatyou're doing, I think, is historic. People see it, they love it … I think it's great for basketball, and great for you and your family."
Last month, Robertson told ESPN.com he's rooting for Westbrook to win the MVP award this season and explained how he thinks the perception of the award has changed:
I think its Westbrook. Thats what I really think, Robertson said of his MVP pick. Because years ago it was tough to win an MVP because it was based on winning championships and [Bill] Russell with the Celtics. They dominated. But one year, Wilt [Chamberlain] averaged 50 points a game and 29 rebounds and me a triple-double, but Bill [Russell] won because his team advanced and we did not.
Its changed now. A lot of people understand what an MVP means. They understand basketball better than they did years ago.
That's quite a bit of support from an NBA legend who just watched a modern player match his triple-double average and break his record for most triple-doubles in a season. Kudos to the Big O on that front.
Once the pregame festivities started, Robertson's support for Westbrook grew even louder:
— NBA (@NBA) April 13, 2017
Oscar Robertson started an MVP chant for Russell Westbrook.
— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) April 13, 2017
Despite initial speculation he might rest, Westbrook suited up for the Thunder in their regular-sesaon finale. Although he could take a seat earlier than normal with Oklahoma City's playoff seeding locked in already, the game isn't completely meaningless. With 41 points, Westbrook would top Kevin Durant for the highest single-season scoring average in franchise history.