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Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP

The NBA awards were handed out on Monday night, with all the stars in attendance. Ultimately, only the Most Valuable Player award truly mattered, and after James Harden and Russell Westbrook battled fiercely all year in a nip-and-tuck race, it was Westbrook who won out.

It was an incredible year for both parties. Harden was brilliant for the Houston Rockets, who shocked many by earning the third seed in the stacked Western Conference, before bowing out in the conference semis. Harden was lousy defensively but epic in every other aspect, averaging 29 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.

Yet it was Westbrook who had one of the most historic seasons in some time. The former UCLA star single-handedly led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the playoffs, averaging a triple-double for the campaign. It was the first occasion a player was able to accomplish that feat since 1962, when Oscar Robertson did so for the Cincinnati Royals.

On the stage with trophy in hand, Westbrook became emotional and said a few words, per ESPN:

“I couldn’t thank everybody, but thanks, you guys, to everybody who helped me along the way,” he said.

However, there are plenty who feel that the wrong player was given the award. Harden was more efficient by almost every metric, while Westbrook was ball-dominant and a high-volume shooter. Westbrook is the much better defender, but he also played on a team that won only 47 games and was easily bounced in the first round by Harden’s Rockets.

Then there is the argument of LeBron James. James didn’t get much MVP love this season for two reasons: Westbrook was in the midst of averaging a triple-double, and James is so dominant, it actually becomes boring. James was, by any measure, the best player in the league. He has been the pinnacle of the sport for close to a decade, and has already taken home four times, but somehow not since 2013.

If the Thunder were without Westbrook, they would not make the playoffs. The same should be said about Harden and the Rockets, with each of these teams maybe winning 35 contests. If the Cavaliers were without James, they might still go deep into the playoffs with Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love. Then again, Cleveland was dreadful in the postseason any time James was on the bench.

The NBA’s voters wanted to award an incredible stat line and perhaps rightfully so. Westbrook is not likely to duplicate his feats from this season again, and so he deserves recognition for his greatness.

In the meantime, we can all argue whether the award should simply go to the league’s best player, If that’s the case, James was robbed. If not, the voters appear to have gotten it right.

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