On historic triple-double tear, Russell Westbrook is getting the Thunder going

NEW YORK — After recording his third triple-double in a row, his eighth of the season and 45th of his career, the superstar lightheartedly lectured a reporter in the locker room. The reporter had erred when commenting on the superstar’s hat, first suggesting that he was copying a younger teammate and then that he was copying a veteran star on the opposing team.

“When has Russell Westbrook ever copied from anybody?” the superstar said. “I’m not a follower and I don’t copy. Write that shit.”

Westbrook was not as angry as his choice of words might suggest, but he wasn’t exactly joking, either — the man is serious about both his fashion and about his individuality. And when it comes to what he’s doing on the court this season, he is only following one person: Oscar Robertson.

Through 19 games, Westbrook is averaging 30.9 points (second in the league), 11.3 assists (second in the league) and 10.3 rebounds (easily first among players shorter than 6-foot-7), and he was one assist shy of registering a triple-double before halftime in the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s 112-103 victory against the New York Knicks on Monday. He got there in less than 20 minutes, and he finished with 27 points, 14 assists and 18 rebounds.

Asked if his stupefying statistics are sustainable, he dismissed the question: “winning is sustainable.” Surely, though, he has noticed the attention that this streak is generating. Surely, he understands the historical significance of it. Right?

“I don’t really care, honestly, man,” Westbrook said. “I just like to win and compete at a high level. I play the same way every night. I’ve been playing the same way since I’ve been in the league.”

Westbrook said the Thunder’s three-game winning streak is what’s important to him, and every night he goes home and watches film to find ways to be a better player and leader for his team, like always. Oklahoma City big man Enes Kanter, however, did draw a distinction between the Westbrook of years past and the one who is now the sole face of his franchise.

“He had an edge last year, but this year he’s just like an animal,” Kanter said. “He just, like, wants to go out there and beat people up. It’s different, man. Whenever you see his face, it’s just like, man, I want to go out there and just beat people up with him. He pumps you up, too. That’s the special thing about him.”

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