Most will look at Russell Westbrook’s triple-doubles and his MVP season. Lake Show Life shows how the media can influence the MVP voting!
Before the discussion of how the sports media can influence NBA fans for years and create narratives, take a listen to Los Angeles Lakers superfan Shannon Sharpe after Russ’ nightmarish Christmas Day performance.
The shock of Kevin Durant leaving Oklahoma City to go to a team in the Golden State Warriors, who were down 3-1 in a playoff series may resonate still today. But while KD’s departure drew ire from many (On par with LeBron’s “Decision”!), it set up Westbrook for superstar status. That and it gave every reporter in the country a storyline for that season.
While KD was vilified for taking the easy way out to two championships, Russ was celebrated for his loyalty and not leaving when things go bad. While the media played that narrative for years, the Thunder hit him with a max deal of $205 million, a contract that the Lakers are now stuck with the back end of. With Westbrook as the only option with the championship players long gone, he made history by averaging a triple-double for an entire season since the Hall of Fame great Oscar Robertson.
The MVP was basically mailed to the Westbrook household on April 9th, 2017 when he not only broke the triple-double record but nailed the buzzer beater to lead a Thunder team that was supposed to be the worst in the NBA to the playoffs as a sixth seed.
This was the apex of Westbrook’s career. He went on to be Mr. “Triple Double”, but couldn’t get the Thunder out of the first round of the playoff even though Carmelo Anthony and Paul George were brought in for championship aspirations.
This is why Russell Westbrook is so defiant with how he plays. He got an MVP by playing this way. He always turned the ball over…always took bad shots (Remember this guy took over 40 shots in a playoff elimination game!) and even though he put up a truckload of stats, they never translated to playoff success. But let’s look at his MVP and ask a few questions.
- When was an MVP given to a player whose team was a sixth seed?
- How much power did Russ have in the OKC organization to be challenged to look at his flaws and improve?
- How frustrated was Kevin Durant when he kept watching Russ jack up shots when he had the hot hand?
- Did the media create a monster based on analytics and box scores?
Ah…analytics. A basketball analysis tool that is used by all and at one time was the bottom line to every decision this NBA team made when they acquired Westbrook from OKC for a point guard that famously got them one hamstring away from the NBA Finals, Chris Paul.
Yes, the Houston Rockets led at the time by the analytics guru, Daryl Morey. It was here where Lake Show Life basically analyzed Russ’ weaknesses in the middle of the playoffs in the bubble! We even predicted he would be traded! Read on…