A lot is being said about Russell Westbrook’s MVP candidacy in the aftermath of his breathtaking, history making performance on Sunday afternoon in Denver. Not only did he eclipse Oscar Robertson for the single-season triple-doubles crown, he also ended the Nuggets’ season with an absolute bomb at the buzzer. His body of work this season is unforgettable and loaded full of MVP moments, but what happened today in the Rockies is his Mona Lisa.
But let the record show: You can’t please everybody.
After another MVP-caliber performance of his own — a 35 point, 15 assist, 11 rebound effort in a win over Sacramento — Houston’s James Harden seemingly took aim at the biggest flaw in the case for Westbrook. Speaking to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle on Sunday evening, The Beard made a hard sell on why voters should consider him most valuable.
“I thought winning was what this is about. I’m not going to get into depths, but I thought winning is the most important thing.”
Look — regardless of what side of the MVP fence you fall on, I don’t believe anyone worth their salt is discrediting the work of either Harden or Westbrook. The two couldn’t be more different in the way they play the game, which has likely lent itself to how polarizing this has all become, but is it Harden’s place to sell us and others on his value? That’s awkward, right? I think it’s awkward.
The fact of the matter is this MVP race is far different from your standard experience, and it seems possible the voting will work out the same way. Yes, Harden’s Rockets will finish with a better record, nobody is denying that. But it’s just too convenient for The Beard to claim it’s all about wins when it just so happens he has more of them. Russ could counter with “I have 42 triple-doubles!” and then what? The players have no business getting involved in the age-old practice of comparing statistics void of context in order to fit a narrative. Leave that to the pros.
Regardless, we have two more regular season games before Westbrook vs. Harden in the first round. They won’t be playing for the MVP, but all of this certainly adds to the drama. I look forward to all the arguing we get to do in the not so distant future.