Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double. The last person to do that was Oscar Robertson during the 1961-1962 season. Did you know Oscar Robertson was not the Most Valuable Player that season? I didn’t because it seems insane to think that someone might average a triple-double and not be MVP. But it’s true. Just like this year, multiple people had crazy good seasons in ’61-’62.
Like Wilt Chamberlain for example. Wilt led the NBA in minutes, points, rebounds, field goals made, free throws made, PER, wins shares and offensive win shares. He was second in field goal percentage and defensive win shares. Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points, 25.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists a game that season. 50 points and 25 rebounds. Every night. Yet he wasn’t MVP either.
Instead, the voters picked Bill Russell who led the NBA in defensive win shares on a 60-win Celtics team featuring 6 other future Hall of Famers in a 9 team league. In Russell’s offensive defense, he did average a career-high 18.9 points per game that season. Plus 23.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Still, that was not good enough for First Team All-NBA that season. Seriously, how was he the MVP?
I’d also like to point out that Bill Russell, a career 56.1% free throw shooter, shot 59.5% from the line that season. Wilt Chamberlain, who is known as one of the worst free throw shooters ever, made 61% of his free throws in ’61-’62 and was 51.1% for his career. I digress.
Keep this all in mind when you want to get upset about Russell Westbrook or any of 6 other deserving players not winning the MVP this season. Awards are nice, but they don’t tell the whole story. And in 50+ years we still haven’t figured out what “most valuable” really means.