2017 was a memorable year in the basketball world.
There were moments of dominance like the Beermen’s growing dynasty or the San Beda’s continued reign over the NCAA. There were redemption stories like Ateneo reclaiming the UAAP from La Salle crown or the Golden State Warriors erasing their 3-1 curse from last year with a chip this year. There were teams and players that emerged from out of nowhere. The Lyceum Pirates not only won games but they changed lives while Alvin Pasaol scored 49 points, cementing his cult legend status.
The basketball played on court wasn’t too bad as well. Russ averaged a triple-double, Ben Mbala wrecked rims, and Ginebra set attendance records in the Governor’s Cup Finals.
To close out a great year, the SLAM PH team recalls their favorite moments in 2017 and their basketball wishes for the new year.
Ah, the triple-double.
If you still don’t know what it is, triple-double is the term used for attaining double-digit totals in three of the five major basketball statistics (points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals). To achieve it, a player must dominate all over the floor in a lot of ways—score in bunches, drop some dimes, grab a ton of boards, and collect swats and steals like a loan shark.
Finishing a game with a triple-double is difficult, but achievable. Today, NBA fans are sometimes treated with stat sheet-stuffing performances from James Harden, LeBron James, and Draymond Green, to name a few. Social media accounts are even doing #TripleDoubleWatch during games whenever possible.
— NBA (@NBA) December 25, 2017
Achieving such feat for an entire season is a whole different thing. As such, only one man had ever done it in the first 70 years of the league: Oscar Robertson. In his second year as a pro, Oscar averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists in a span of 79 games. He did it in ’61-’62—a time when steals and blocks weren’t counted as stats, and the three-point line didn’t even exist. In a game where not all players can accomplish a triple-double, Oscar had 41 of those in a span of one season—which was also a record. There’s a reason why his achievements weren’t replicated by anyone for so long: triple-doubles are hard to earn, even for just once in an entire career. Just ask Andray Blatche. And in today’s NBA where players and coaches are more skilled, and better systems are employed, it would seem foolish to expect someone to score, rebound and make plays at a high level on a nightly basis. It would be hard for anyone to repeat the kind of dominance that Oscar once did. For a long time, a triple-double season was closer to fiction than reality. It was only meant to be done again in the confines of video games. But in 2017, Russell Westbrook achieved the improbable—a triple-double season in the modern NBA. After his infamous breakup with Kevin Durant, Russ singlehandedly carried Oklahoma City to a playoffs spot with his otherworldly numbers: 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists. He also surpassed the record for the most number of triple-doubles in a season with 42. The Big O’s record, which stood for 55 years, was erased by the reigning Season MVP. Let’s take a look back at some of Brodie’s best moments on his way to an unprecedented season: Brodie’s first triple-double in 2017 It was a slow start for OKC to start the 2017. They lost three in a row against Milwaukee, Charlotte and Houston. The losing streak happened despite Westbrook scoring at least 30 points in each of the games. The Thunder notched their first win for 2017 on January 7 against Denver. They relied on Russ’ first triple-double in 2017 to deliver an emphatic W against the Nuggets, 121-106. He finished with 32 points, 17 rebounds and 11 assists. This would be his 17th in 38 games. Needless to say, the game was a glimpse of the things to come for Russ and the Thunder. The 57-point game The game held last March 29 was supposed to be a lopsided victory for Orlando. But the Magic found themselves in control for most of the game. When the lead went up to as much as 21 in the third quarter, it looked like Orlando would cruise into a victory. However, Oklahoma City came surging with a huge comeback to force overtime. Russ scored 19 points in the last six minutes of the fourth, which was capped by a game-tying triple with 7.1 seconds left in regulation. He continued to dominate in overtime, as he scored seven of OKC’s 12 points (and assisted on the other five) to snatch the win away from the Magic, 114-106. Brodie finished with 13 rebounds, 11 assists and 57 points—the most scored on a triple-double game. He also notched his 38th of the season, three short of Oscar’s record. The seven-game streak to number 41
With only 34 triple-doubles and 12 games remaining in OKC’s schedule, Russ had to be sharp to reach The Big O’s 41 in a season.
It turned out he only needed the first seven to reach the record. He strung together his second 7-game triple-double streak of the season to up his total to 41, tying the Big O for most in a season. During the stretch, he also became the first player to do this:
Russ didn’t miss a shot tonight from field or line.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) March 23, 2017
In the last game of that stretch against Milwaukee, he notched his 10th rebound and 10th assist in one sequence:
On April 7, Russ cemented his legacy.
He missed the triple-double on the loss against Phoenix. But still, he clinched the triple-double average for the season after he tallied his sixth assist of the game.
He successfully followed the footsteps of Oscar, as he became the second player in NBA history to log a triple-double average in a season.
Welcome to the Mount Rushmore of triple-doubles, Russ.
Overtaking the Big O
With that assist, he broke the record for most triple-double games in a season. Just like how the moon was deemed unreachable before mankind took one giant leap, Russ reached something which was once thought to be impossible.
To celebrate the history he made, he ended the game with 50 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists, and the best finale possible. He hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Thunder the W
What a way to finish a historic night, and a historic run.
2017 was a great year for Russell Westbrook. He proved that records are meant to be broken when he unleashed an extraordinary performance throughout last season. He took home his first MVP and led Oklahoma City to a playoffs berth.
What’s next for him this 2018? Second MVP? First ring? Setting new records?
No one can know for sure what else is in store for Brodie’s career. For now, let’s allow him to savor the amazing year that was for the new Mr. Triple Double.
READ: 2017 Basketball Wrap-up