A triple-double. That’s a term that fans have been hearing this season in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
A player has a triple-double when he reaches double figures — 10 or more, that is — in points, rebounds and assists in a single game.
So a player who has a triple-double is helping his team in three important ways.
Basketball fans are talking about triple-doubles because Russell Westbrook, the all-star guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, has been getting a lot of them this season. Going into Thursday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, Westbrook had an unbelievable 30 triple-doubles.
To give you some idea of how hard it is to get a triple-double, the player closest to Westbrook is superstar guard James Harden of the Houston Rockets with 15. Most players, including plenty of all-stars, don’t have a single triple-double this season.
Westbrook, who is averaging 31.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.3 assists a game, has a chance to average a triple-double for the entire season.
No NBA player in the past 45 years — not even legends such as Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson — has averaged a triple-double for an entire season.
The only NBA player to do that is someone whose name is unknown to many younger hoops fans: Oscar Robertson.
Robertson — or “The Big O,” as he was called — was one of the greatest all-around players in NBA history. The Cincinnati Royals (later the Kansas City-Omaha Kings and now the Sacramento Kings) made Robertson the first pick in the 1960 NBA draft.
Robertson did not let the Royals down. The 6-foot-5-inch guard did it all — score, rebound and pass. During the 1961-1962 season, Robertson averaged a triple-double — 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists. Robertson was never able to duplicate the feat, although he came close to averaging a triple-double in four other seasons.
So Westbrook is doing something special.
Some experts think Westbrook should be named the most valuable player (MVP) this season. Others think Harden or LeBron James should get the big prize.
But if “most valuable” means the player who helps his team the most, it’s hard to think of anyone who helps his team more than Mr. Triple-Double: Russell Westbrook.
Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. His latest basketball book for kids — “Outside Shot” — has just been published.