Russell Westbrook’s career has paralleled Oscar Robertson’s in several ways. They both had to carry undermanned teams, and were criticized for not winning championships in their primes. They were both among the most athletic players of their era. They remain the only two players in NBA history ever to average a triple-double for a season.
And now, Westbrook has officially matched Robertson in the NBA record books. With 33 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists in the Wizards‘ 133-132 overtime win over the Pacers on Saturday, Westbrook recorded his 181st career triple-double. That ties him with Robertson for the most in NBA history.
Robertson has long been a fan of Westbrook’s, and in a recent interview with Marc Stein of the New York Times, he reiterated that he hoped to see Westbrook break his record. “I hope he gets it,” Robertson said. “I think he’s one of the elite guards in basketball, and I think it’s ridiculous that some sportswriters criticize him because he has not won a championship. Players don’t win championships by themselves. You’ve got to have good management. You need to get with the right group of players.”
The Wizards have four games left on their regular-season schedule before they are expected to participate in the play-in round of the postseason. That should give Westbrook plenty of time to break the record this season. He already has 35 triple-doubles this season, including 25 in his past 30 games. Westbrook is on pace to average a triple-double for the fourth time in five seasons.
While triple-doubles are on the rise around the league, with Westbrook still going strong, it is highly unlikely that anyone breaks his new record any time soon. Only two other players in NBA history, Magic Johnson with 138 and Jason Kidd with 107, have even reached 100 career triple-doubles (though LeBron James with 99 will get there soon). With Westbrook likely to push at least into the 200s, he should hold the record for a long, long time.
Robertson once did. When he retired in 1974, it seemed almost impossible that anyone would catch him. Now Westbrook has. It’s fitting. Westbrook is in many ways his generation’s version of Robertson, and now, they will be linked in the record books forever.