Even Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook, the 2015 All-Star Game MVP, was unsure of which player would receive the award following a 196-173 victory for the Western Conference.
Turns out, Westbrook’s 31 point, eight rebound, five assist, five steal performance for the winning squad was enough for him to be crowned MVP Sunday night, marking the second consecutive season he was bestowed the award.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen, man,” Westbrook said. “I was just sitting there and kind of talking and enjoying and my name got called. I just embraced that moment and enjoyed it.”
Westbrook became the first player to claim sole possession of the All-Star Game MVP award in consecutive years.
Hall-of-Fame center Bob Pettit had been the only player to be named All-Star Game MVP twice in a row, as he captured the award in 1958 and then was appointed co-MVP the following year alongside Elgin Baylor.
The magnitude of the accomplishment wasn’t lost on Westbrook.
“Any time you can be able to be in the history books, it always means something to me,” Westbrook said. “I’m just thankful to be able to play the game of basketball and be in a game like this is something that, like I said before, I never take for granted.”
Despite playing for the losing team, George nearly set All-Star Game history of his own, as he poured in 41 points, just one shy of the all-time record for most points scored in a game, held by Wilt Chamberlain since 1962.
George did set a record, as he buried nine shots from 3-point range, but it wasn’t enough to carry the Eastern Conference to a victory.
Westbrook managed to lead his team to a victory, but was also the primary catalyst for the highest scoring outing a team has managed in an All-Star Game.
By winning his second MVP award at All-Star weekend, Westbrook joined Bryant, Pettit, Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Julius Erving, Isaiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and LeBron James as the only players to win the award multiple times.
The vicious attacks of Westbrook at the rim proved to be too much.
In a game that featured both teams shooting above 54 percent from the field and a combined seven free throw attempts, any semblance of defense was impressive.
Seven different players logged 20 or more points while 17 of the 24 participants managed to convert a 3-pointer in the contest.
Westbrook posted five steals, as the only defense played by either team came during the final seconds, as the West hounded George to prevent him from topping Chamberlain’s single game scoring record.
Once the contest was over, Westbrook expressed his gratitude to be regarded so highly among the elite players in the NBA.
“I think it’s fun, man. I think it’s great for the fans. And I was really, really happy to be a starter,” Westbrook said. “I just wanted to go out there and enjoy my time, dance a little bit, smile. I know a lot of people don’t see me smile a lot during the season, so I like to smile a little bit during the All-Star Weekend and enjoy my time and have fun.”