MVP Westbrook cream of crop

Current and former NBA stars and celebrities attend first-ever NBA Awards in New York.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook posing with the NBA MVP trophy at the inaugural NBA Awards show. He had a standout season with a league-high of 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists a game.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook posing with the NBA MVP trophy at the inaugural NBA Awards show. He had a standout season with a league-high of 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists a game.PHOTO: REUTERS

Guard wins best player award for the 1st time, remains non-committal over Thunder future

NEW YORK • Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook declined to commit his long-term future to the Thunder after he was named the National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player (MVP) on Monday at the inaugural NBA Awards show.

He defeated fellow finalists guard James Harden of the Houston Rockets and forward Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs to claim the season MVP award for the first time at the ceremony held in New York.

The guard averaged a league-high 31.6 points plus 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists a game, matching retired legend Oscar Robertson from 1962 with double digits in three statistical categories for a full season.

"It was an amazing season for me, but without these guys (his Thunder team-mates), none of it would have been possible. This award is not for me. It's for all of us," said Westbrook.

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The 28-year-old thanked "all my fans all across the world who appreciate me" and cried as he thanked his wife and parents.

"I couldn't do none of this without you guys," he said. "I can't say thank you enough."

  • NBA AWARDS WINNERS

  • MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City )

    DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:  Draymond Green (Golden State)

    MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee)

    SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR: Eric Gordon (Houston)

    ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Malcolm Brogdon (Milwaukee)

    COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike D'Antoni (Houston)

    EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR: Bob Myers (Golden State)

Westbrook also won awards for best style and from fans for the game winner of the year.

On a night of celebrations, the six-time NBA All-Star was not keen to look ahead.

He has a player option for the next season, allowing him to opt out next year and sign with a new team.

The Thunder - desperate to avoid a repeat of last summer, when they lost star forward Kevin Durant to NBA champions Golden State Warriors - are reportedly set to offer Westbrook a new five-year deal when free agency begins on Saturday.

But Westbrook, a Thunder since 2008, gave no indication on whether he would ink an extension that could be worth about US$215 million (S$173 million).

"Tonight is so important for me, and obviously with the contract and stuff coming up, it's not really on my mind at the moment," he told a news conference.

Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks won the Most Improved Player award.

Another Bucks standout, guard Malcolm Brogdon, won Rookie of the Year honours.

Warriors forward Draymond Green was voted the Defensive Player of the Year, defeating co-finalists Leonard and French centre Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.

"This isn't an individual award," Green said. "There are five guys on the floor every time. I can't do this all by myself so I appreciate them."

Rockets guard Eric Gordon was named the NBA's top reserve player, while his coach Mike D'Antoni was named Coach of the Year.

Fan-voted awards went to Leonard for block of the year, Warriors guard Klay Thompson for performance of the year in a 60-point effort against the Indiana Pacers, Durant for best play-off moment for a three-pointer in Game Three of the NBA Finals, Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Green for assist of the year and Thunder guard Victor Oladipo for dunk of the year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'MVP Westbrook cream of crop'. Print Edition | Subscribe