Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook has joined the only other man to average a triple-double for an entire NBA season, Oscar Robertson. Westbrook’s incredible 2016-17 season has been full of highlights and historic moments including recording the highest scoring triple-double in NBA history after scoring 57 points, while adding 13 rebounds and 11 assists in the Thunder’s 114-106 victory over the Magic last month. The 2016-17 NBA Most Valuable Player award likely comes down to Westbrook or Houston Rockets star James Harden, who has also put together an impressive year filled with triple-doubles himself. However, the NBA player most historically associated with the term triple-double is Oscar Robertson, whose accolades have become even greater because of the seasons of Harden and especially Westbrook.
Russell Westbrook has tied an NBA record that seemed unreachable when he recorded his 41st triple-double of the season. He tied Oscar Robertson’s NBA record and the two point guards share a number of similarities despite playing in completely different NBA eras. While most NBA fans quickly notice and marvel over Russell Westbrook’s outerworldly athleticism, Oscar Robertson was a great athlete himself against his peers and combined that with strength as well. Both point guards are bigger than the average NBA point guard even though Robertson was even bigger than Westbrook. They both rebound more similarly to power forwards than the point guard position they both play. And even though they both were threats to score on any given play, they both displayed the passing ability to find teammates.
Oscar Robertson had the misfortune of his career overlapping the careers of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, two NBA giants in ability and stature. During the 1961-62 in which Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double for the entire season, Robertson finished third in NBA MVP voting to Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. But Robertson would eventually win the NBA MVP award for his excellence during the 1963-64 NBA season in which he again showed he is a triple threat as a scorer, rebounder, and passer. While Russell Westbrook has passed Robertson for the NBA record for most triple-doubles in a NBA season, he has a great amount of work to catch Robertson for the NBA record for career triple-doubles. This should serve as a reminder of the legendary Oscar Robertson’s all-around excellence.