Tag: Russell Westbrook

Larry Bird

Larry Bird on Russell Westbrook: “I hope he wins 10 MVPs in a row”


When it comes to fans a basketball player can have, it’s hard to do better than Larry Bird. In a new interview, the Hall of Famer and Pacers president gushed about the way Russell Westbrook has been playing lately, saying he reminds him of his own competitive spirit.

From ESPN.com’s Mike Mazzeo:

ESPN.com: Russell Westbrook has been averaging nearly 30 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds per game for over a month now. You’ve put together similar stretches during your career. What do you think of what he’s been able to accomplish?

Larry Bird: Here’s a young man that has had serious injuries — bad knee injuries throughout his career — yet every time he walks on the court, you know you’re going to get 100 percent from him. He attacks, he’s fearless and he plays the way it should be played, so I’m all for him. I hope he wins 10 MVPs in a row. I just love players that compete on a nightly basis and really take the challenge to their opponents.

ESPN.com: You and Russell obviously play two different positions, but does he remind you of yourself in terms of his competitiveness and will to win?

Bird: I don’t know. I just think that my opinion about basketball, the way I was taught, was when you step on the court, you play to win. Now, if you’re not supposed to play to win, then they shouldn’t keep score. If they didn’t keep score in these games, I wouldn’t have played as hard as I did. But I do think this is our job. We know that we’re going to be hurting years down the road. He knows that he’s going to be hurting years down the road, but he can’t help it. He has to play that way to be effective, and he knows that.

High praise from the highest possible source, obviously. Westbrook’s season speaks for itself, and anybody who draws that kind of praise from one of the greatest players of all time has to be doing something right.

Andrew Bogut: Stephen Curry is the MVP, and ‘I don’t think it’s close’

Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry

If you ask the teammates of legitimate MVP candidates who they think should win the award this season, they’re of course going to pick the guy on their own roster.

Well, usually.

In any case, Andrew Bogut did exactly that recently, and when talking up the merits of Stephen Curry, also said that in his eyes, the race wasn’t even close.

From Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group:

… coinciding with Houston’s James Harden putting up huge numbers has been some discussion about why Curry might not win. One reason revolves around his usage, as he averages just under 33 minutes per game. Only previous award winners Bill Walton (33.3) and Steve Nash (34.3) come close to that figure.

Warriors center Andrew Bogut put it another way as far as the minutes being an indicator of why Curry should be MVP rather than something that should be held against the point guard.

“He only needs to play 25, 30 minutes, and we’re winning games by 15, 20 points,” Bogut said Tuesday after Curry scored 33 points and dished out 10 assists in a win at Portland. “If he had to play 45 minutes for us, I’m sure he’d be averaging greater numbers, so in a way, it’s kind of flawed. He’s the MVP in my opinion. We’re the best team in the league. We have the best record in the league. I don’t think it’s close in my opinion.”

Curry has been sensational this season, and there’s no argument to be made that he hasn’t been the most fun to watch. And, as the best player on what’s essentially been the league’s top team all season long, he may very well come away with the award once the year is finished.

But Bogut is wrong that the race isn’t close; in fact, it’s the closest it’s been in years.

James Harden’s case is perhaps even stronger than Curry’s, because he’s absolutely carried the Rockets in Dwight Howard’s absence. Harden has put up more 40-point games than anyone else this season, and has made more free throws (606) than any single player has even attempted; Russell Westbrook is the current leader in attempts (behind Harden) with 539.

And speaking of Westbrook, he’s single-handedly dragging the Thunder to the playoffs, while racking up an insane amount of triple-doubles — even if some are more dubious than others.

There’s also Anthony Davis to consider, and (oh yeah) some guy named LeBron James.

To me, it’s a two-man race between Harden and Curry. My hypothetical vote would go to Harden, but it would be difficult to find reasons to be upset if Curry ends up with it, just as Bogut expects.

LeBron James says nobody should fault Kevin Love for picking Russell Westbrook over him for MVP

Phoenix Suns v Cleveland Cavaliers

Kevin Love picked Russell Westbrook as NBA MVP over his not-best-friend LeBron James.

LeBron reportedly cares about the award.

Does he care about Love’s comments?

LeBron, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“I don’t really think too much of it, really,” James said after Cleveland Cavaliers practice on Tuesday. “I don’t really get involved in that. I think the voters are going to decide who is the MVP. I think what Russ has been doing, his numbers have been pretty crazy keeping those guys afloat in the West in his play. Steph Curry can make a case, for sure, what he’s been doing — James Harden and myself, as well. So, Kevin has his own opinion of who he believes is the MVP. No one should fault him for that.”

What about Anthony Davis? What about Chris Paul? LeBron omitting Davis from the discussion is more offensive than Love slighting LeBron for the No. 1 spot.

At least LeBron didn’t make this a bigger issue than it needed to be.

That hasn’t always been the case with him and Love, and that’s why the speculation about Love leaving Cleveland won’t end. Perhaps, LeBron has learned how to make Love feel a little more comfortable.

Russell Westbrook ferociously throws down alley-oop against Lakers (video)

Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City Thunder
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The two-point-guard back court of D.J. Augustin and Russell Westbrook has been a net negative for the Thunder. But, sometimes, it works in spectacular fashion.

This is why Russell Westbrook is viewed as the NBA’s best point guard. That athleticism is just scary.

Russell Westbrook rated NBA’s top point guard in poll of anonymous NBA personnel

Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors

Who’s the best point guard in the NBA?

Jeff Goodman of ESPN asked a group of 25 players, coaches an executives to rank NBA’s point guards, 1-30. The leaders:

1. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (732 points, 13 first-place votes)

“He might be an alien. I’ve never seen anyone like him before. His athleticism and antics are off the charts.” — NBA executive

2. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (727 points, 9 first-place votes)

“Maybe the best shooter we’ve ever seen in the NBA off the dribble. Probably the leading candidate for MVP this year.” — NBA executive

3. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (652 points, 3 first-place votes)

“Everything you could ever want from a point guard. Leads, scores and defends and knows exactly when to do each of those things.” — NBA executive

The NBA has hundreds of players, coaches and executives. It’s worth noting this isn’t necessarily a representative sample of the league’s thinking.

But these 25 nailed the top three. There’s a big drop to the next tier.

The order of the top three, though?

Westbrook is the most athletic/energetic player in the NBA, and with Kevin Durant sidelined, he’s showing the heights he can reach. Curry is an incredible shooter, very good passer and good-enough defender. Paul expertly controls the game on both ends of the court.

Honestly, on any given day, I could rank those three in a different order.

Paul was the best entering the season, but he’s showing signs of aging – at least enough for Curry and Westbrook to crack into the discussion. Curry reached this elite level sooner, and he has sustained it longer, but Westbrook has climbed even higher lately.

Today, I agree with Goodman’s panel – and I know that makes me a hypocrite.

Tomorrow, I don’t know.