The NBA has a new triple-double king.
The Washington Wizards’ Russell Westbrook broke Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson’s 47-year-old record with his 182nd career triple-double on Monday.
Westbrook passed Robertson on a rebound in the fourth quarter, giving him 21 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds against the Atlanta Hawks. Westbrook finished with 28 points, 21 assists and 13 rebounds in a 125-124 loss. Westbrook missed a 3-pointer in the game’s final shot. He collected the game ball from referee Tom Washington after the final buzzer.
Westbrook has been a triple-double tear in the second half of the season. He has 36 in 2020-21, including 26 in the past two months and 18 in the Wizards’ past 21 games.
As recently as the 2014-15 season, it didn’t look like Westbrook, who played his first 11 season with Oklahoma City, would make a run at Robertson’s record.
Through his first six seasons, he registered just 19 triple-doubles. In 2015-16, he began showing a penchant for triple-doubles with his explosive, hard-charging style. He had 18 that season and followed it up in 2016-17 with 42 triple-doubles, breaking Robertson’s single-season record. He won MVP that season.
He tallied 67 in the next three seasons but just eight last season with Houston. A trade to Washington before the season started gave Westbrook an opportunity to play the way he did with the Thunder. If the NBA had played a regular 82-game schedule instead of a 72-game slate this season, Westbrook may have had a chance to eclipse his single-season record.
At 6-3, Westbrook is one of the best rebounding guards in NBA history. He may not always be an efficient scorer but he has a way of racking up points, averaging at least 20 points the past 11 seasons. He is a willing passer, too, and it helps that he has played with All-Stars and gifted scorers Kevin Durant, James Harden and Bradley Beal.
Despite the hyper-criticism of Westbrook’s game, he has played for winning teams, and his team’s record when he records a triple-double is 136-45, including 21-14 with the Wizards.
“I just go out and have fun and hoop,” Westbrook recently said. “At the end of the day, when my journey is done and I’m done playing basketball, I can think of some of the crazy stat lines – the good, the bad, the ugly – and be thankful. I’m thankful for it all.”