MVP Westbrook soaks up plaudits from stars

NEW YORK • Russell Westbrook received congratulations on his first National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player (MVP) award on Tuesday from former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Kevin Durant and Hall of Fame guard Michael Jordan.

Westbrook took the honour at the NBA Awards show on Monday in New York, defeating fellow finalists Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs and James Harden of the Houston Rockets in the voting.

The 28-year-old guard became only the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double - 31.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game - for a full season, joining Oscar Robertson in 1962.

He also set the mark for most triple-doubles in an NBA season (42), breaking Robertson's record.

One thing that helped make that feat possible was Durant's decision to leave the Thunder last July as a free agent and sign with the Golden State Warriors.

Durant helped the Warriors win the NBA crown earlier this month, the first of his career and their second in three seasons.

In a posting on his YouTube channel page, he wrote: "Huge congrats to Russell Westbrook on MVP, that boy went out there and was a created player on (basketball video game) 2k all year... balled out. Gotta respect it!"

Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Hornets, won his first NBA MVP award in 1988, three years before capturing the first of six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls. And he reminded Westbrook of that in an Instagram post.

"Congrats, Russell," he wrote.

"I got my first MVP award before my first ring, too... Keep going!"

Westbrook and Durant helped the Thunder reach the 2012 NBA Finals, where they lost to the LeBron James-led Miami Heat, and the 2015 NBA Western Conference Finals, where they lost to the Warriors.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2017, with the headline 'MVP Westbrook soaks up plaudits from stars'. Print Edition | Subscribe