Russell Westbrook Edges James Harden for MVP; Draymond Green Claims Defensive Player of the Year

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

Three years and one team-crippling departure after watching his former teammate Kevin Durant claim the 2014 NBA MVP award, Russell Westbrook did the same in 2017.

The Oklahoma City Thunder guard edged the Houston Rockets’ James Harden for the honor, 888 voting points to 753.

Westbrook averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists in 2016-17 to become the first player to average a triple-double since Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson did the same 40 seasons earlier. His Thunder’s 47-35 record is the worst mark for a team with an MVP since Moses Malone’s Rockets went 46-36 in 1981-82.

At the NBA’s first ever awards show, the high point of Russ’ acceptance speech came when he addressed his parents.

“My parents … man. You guys did any and everything to make sure me and my brother had anything we wanted. I told myself I wasn’t gonna cry but …” a teary-eye Westbrook managed to say.

“I can’t say thank you enough. You guys sacrificed everything. Pops, OG, working two jobs, getting me up at 4 in the morning, waking me up, every night going to the gym, shooting hoops outside, staying up late playing the video games. … To my mom doing everything to keep our family together. I’m truly blessed to have you as my mother. You’re so amazing. I couldn’t be able to do none of this without you guys. I can’t say thank you enough. There’s so many things I could say about you guys for putting me here. I’m just thankful for having you guys in my corner. I love you guys.”

During the event, the league announced winners for every major award. After finishing second to Kawhi Leonard for consecutive seasons, Draymond Green claimed Defensive Player of the Year.

“This isn’t an individual award. There are five guys out there at a time,” Green said, acknowledging his Golden State Warriors teammates. “I appreciate them. Even with KD and Klay not making the All-Defensive team, I appreciate everything they do.”