100 days of hoops, hardwood

100 Days of Hoops, Day 42

Let’s start by going to the most trusted source in Wikipedia to define what is a triple-double? And who coined it?

“A triple-double is defined as a performance in which a player accumulates a double-digit number total in three of five statistical categories—points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots—in a game…The origin of the term “triple-double” is unclear. Some sources claim that it was coined by former Los Angeles Lakers public relations director Bruce Jolesch in the 1980s in order to showcase Magic Johnson’s versatility, while others claim that it was coined by Philadelphia 76ers media relations director Harvey Pollack in 1980. The triple-double officially became a recorded statistic during the 1979–80 season.”

Though the significance of the stat was apparent in the 1961-62 season, Oscar Robertson averaged 30.8 PPG, 11.4 Assists per game and 12.5 RPG en route to forty-one triple-doubles in the 79 games he played that season.  Robertson scored forty or more points five times throughout the season and had multiple games where he had fifteen rebounds and assists.  Robertson also did this without an option to shoot a three-pointer.

This record was supposedly unbroken until Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016.  Fans wondered how Westbrook would respond to Durant’s departure and he responded by reminding doubters of his greatness.

He tied the record for most triple-doubles in a season against Robertson’s team, the Milwaukee Bucks

Then, Westbrook broke the record in a thriller and closed the door on the Denver Nuggets.

It only took 55 years but it finally happened, Westbrook dethroned Robertson on this single-season record, one many deemed unbreakable. It’s important to note the NBA played at a very fast pace in its early years, and one can argue Robertson might have had an easier time than Westbrook.  Make no mistake, there are only two players who have averaged triple-doubles in a season. It’s the new “cool” in the NBA and versatility is in too. On average, it happens once every thirty-six games.  Finally, in the 2016-17 NBA season, there were a total of 117 triple-doubles, shattering the previous record: 78 total triple-doubles in the 1988-89 season.

Is Westbrook’s record unbreakable? One could argue he used too much energy as he looked lethargic in the playoffs while others say breaking this record was worth it. It will always be one of the most individually impressive performances throughout a season and Westbrook has the MVP to show for it.

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