WASHINGTON — Russell Westbrook has set the NBA record with his 182nd triple-double, surpassing the mark set by Oscar Robertson in 1974.
The 32-year-old Westbrook, in his 13th season overall and his first with the Washington Wizards, reached the milestone when he grabbed his 10th rebound with 8:29 left in Monday night's game against the Atlanta Hawks. He was already into double figures in points and assists.
Westbrook began the night averaging 11.5 assists, tops in the NBA and the only player in double digits. He ranked sixth in rebounds with 11.6 per game and was averaging 22 points. He has recorded a triple-double in each of Washington's last five games, three of them before the start of the fourth quarter.
Westbrook, the 2016-17 MVP and a nine-time All-Star, praised Robertson when he tied the record in Saturday’s overtime win at Indiana. He had 33 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists, closing out the game with a blocked shot.
“I take a lot of pride in doing everything I can to impact winning,” Westbrook said. “To be in a conversation with Oscar, I just want to thank him because he set the stage. The things he was able to do back in the day has allowed me to do the things that I do today. So I’m appreciative of that, and I’m appreciative of his support as well.”
Washington acquired Westbrook in a trade with Houston for John Wall before the season, reuniting Westbrook with coach Scott Brooks, who guided him to that MVP season in Oklahoma City.
The Wizards, who are trying to secure a spot in the postseason play-in tournament, were playing the first of at least two games without Bradley Beal, the NBA's No. 2 scorer who has a strained left hamstring.
That was nothing new for Westbrook, who has seven triple-doubles in nine games that Beal has missed.
“Well, it’s definitely pretty incredible like I’ve said many times,” Brooks said before Monday’s game. “He’s a special player, an incredible leader, teammate. He’s coachable. No matter what he’s accomplished, he’s about winning. Everyone knows triple-doubles are hard to get and for him to be able to do this is pretty incredible.”
Westbrook had eight triple-doubles during his first six seasons in Oklahoma City. Then something clicked, and he’s produced 174 over the last seven seasons.
He has a league-leading 36 this season, the second-highest total of his career. He had 42 in 2016-17 when he became the first player since Robertson in 1961-62 to average a triple-double. With a week left in the regular season, he can match that feat for the fourth time in five seasons.
“I’ve had nothing but respect and admiration for Oscar and what he’s done and what he’s meant to the league and for (Westbrook) to be able to this, I never thought it would be broken,” Brooks said. “I love the game. I follow the game. There’s two records I never thought would be broken. Oscar Robertson’s triple-double and Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game.”
Russell Westbrook became an instant hit with his ability to deliver triple-doubles. Now, the 6-foot-3 point guard has broken Oscar Robertson's seemingly unbreakable career record.
Westbrook broke the record after snagging his 182nd career triple-double in his Monday evening game versus the Atlanta Hawks.
“I take a lot of pride in doing everything I can to impact winning," he said the night before when he tied Robertson's record. “To be in a conversation with Oscar, I just want to thank him because he set the stage. The things he was able to do back in the day has allowed me to do the things that I do today. So I'm appreciative of that, and I'm appreciative of his support as well."
But the two men now linked in the record books took dramatically different paths to the top.
Robertson was an Indianapolis high school star, a three-time All-American at the University of Cincinnati and an Olympic gold medalist before playing for the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks.
In just his second pro season, Robertson became the first player to average a triple-double — a feat only matched by Westbrook a half-century later — and Robertson came within a whisker of achieving the feat in each of his first five seasons.