At the NBA Awards , which were held last night, almost two months after the regular season, NBA Superstar Russell Westbrook was declared 2016-17 MVP.
This year, instead of releasing the winners towards the beginning of the playoffs, the league decided to awards the NBA’s key awards in a prime time awards show two weeks after the end of the playoffs. It felt like looking back at last year, but the awards needed to be given out.
Hip Hop artist Drake did a fine job as host, with some parody videos, including one with Will Ferrell, and delivering some solid one liners at the players and NBA culture such as:
“[New York] is the city that never sleeps, mostly because everyone that lives here is afraid of being traded.” Sorry, Kristaps. Sorry, Melo.
“Draymond Green stopped kicking people in the groin and moved onto something much worse, his own podcast.”
Since the show was on TNT, their standard NBA team of Shaquille O’Neal, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley held court.
The Notable awards:
KIA NBA Defensive Player of the Year – Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
KIA Most Improved Player – Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks
NBA Coach of the Year – Mike D’Antoni – Houston Rockets
KIA NBA Sixth Man Award – Eroc Gordon, Houston Rockets
KIA NBA Rookie of the Year – Malcolm Brogdon – Milwaukee Bucks
It was a long and hard year for Russell Westbrook. After coming up short last season by losing to Golden state, his partner in crime Kevin Durant stunned him by signing with what seemed to be their arch enemy.
That left Westbrook with a weaker team and much more on his shoulders. Westbrook made a herculean effort to shoulder the load, leading the team with a facade that seemed like he was in constant rage. He crushed NBA records, including taking the league record on triple doubles. Westbrook averaged a triple-double of 31.6 points, 10.4 assists and 10.7 rebounds for the Thunder last season
NBA scholars tried to demean his chances for MVP because his Oklahoma City Thunder finished fourth in the West, but with the year that Russell had, he could not be denied.
Even with Westbrook’s unforgettable season, the Houston Rocket’s James Harden gave him fierce competition for MVP.
Harden nearly averaged a triple-double with 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds. Harden’s Rockets won eight more games than the Thunder and landed the Western Conference’s third playoff seed. Despite the slight difference in points per game, Harden averaged 18.9 field-goal attempts per game to Westbrook’s 24.
“James had an unbelievable season,” Westbrook said. “James is a real good friend of mine, as you guys know. And to have him here in the building, competing every single night, it’s a blessing in itself. Hopefully for years to come, it’ll be the same thing. I’m just so happy for him and his family as well.”
Westbrook gave an emotional and memorable acceptance speech, giving honor to his family and his teammates. He was in tears. The anger was gone. The farce mask wasn’t there. It was just him.
“Unbelievable. Just a true blessing for me,” Westbrook said. “I don’t give nobody thanks but to the man above. He’s blessing me with a talent to go out and compete at a level every single night, man. And I’m just very, very thankful for his blessing.
“My job is to go out there and do it, and I’m just humbled again, amazing award, and so many great Hall of Famers have gotten this award. And it’s just an honor to be part of some of those guys.”
“My family, that’s who I play for,” Westbrook said. “Every night, you guys see me scream, pound my chest, whatever, I do whatever it is. Emotion, it’s for my family because they sacrifice so much for me at every level that I know that they do, and I’m just so thankful to have them in my life and definitely to have them here tonight.”
TNT and the NBA also gave away an award called the “Sager Strong” award, honoring the legendary NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager who recently died of cancer. The award was given to NBA assistant coach Monty Williams whose wife died in a car crash this season. Williams and his family courageously declared that the family of the person who caused the accident needed to be prayed for as well as his. Williams received one of Sager signature jackets with roses emblazoned in it. It was the most heartfelt moment of the night.