Russell Westbrook has a chance to complete something remarkable Wednesday night.
With 16 rebounds against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Oklahoma City Thunder guard will secure an average of a triple-double — for a second straight season.
Remember how excited everyone was when he did it last season? It was unheard of, something many of us had not seen in our lifetimes. It was the strongest case for his MVP season.
Now that he would be doing it for the first time since last season, rather than the first time since Oscar Robinson in 1961-62, it’s not that big of a deal. At least in terms of perception.
But come on. It is a big deal. Being the modern-day statistical equivalent of Robertson means something.
His box-score-stuffing prowess has drawn snickers about stat-padding since last season, but most recently from teammate Carmelo Anthony, who joked about how Westbrook “steals” rebounds with the media on Tuesday.
Carmelo Anthony on Russell Westbrook’s rebounding, if he “steals” rebounds and if the team cares or not: pic.twitter.com/rtkbAmQjaI
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) April 10, 2018
“Sometimes you want to fight him a little bit, push him out of the way, Anthony said with a smile on his face. “For me it’s good because to have a guard like that being able to crack back like that and get rebounds. He steals sometimes, he steals rebounds.”
“I don’t think nobody thinks twice about that. As long as we get the rebound, I don’t think we worry about that.”
Westbrook faced questions about the talk about his padding stats on Wednesday, and, of course, he was cool about it.
Nah. Just kidding. He wasn’t having it.
Russell Westbrook went off a bit on the idea he stat-pads rebounds: “If you don’t want it, I’m gonna get it. Simple as that.” pic.twitter.com/z7BstM154p
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) April 11, 2018
“A lot people make jokes about, you know, stat padding or going to get rebounds,” Westbrook told reporters. “If people could get 20 rebounds every night, they would. If people could get 15 rebounds, they would. People that’s talking or saying whatever they need to say, they should try doing it and see how hard it is.”
He then appeared to hone in directly on Anthony’s comments about stealing rebounds.
“Everybody wants to be talking, I’m tired of hearing the same old rebound this, stealing rebounds, all this [expletive],” Westbrook said. “I take pride in what I do. I come out and play, and I get the ball faster than somebody else gets to it. That’s what it is. If you don’t want it, I’m gonna get it. Simple as that.”
So maybe there’s a bit of tension among Thunder stars on the eve of the playoffs. But it’s likely not that big of a deal. In reality, it seems like the kind of energy to fuel Westbrook to go out and get those rebounds against Memphis.
As if he needs it.
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