When you put up numbers not seen before in the history of professional basketball in America, it’s little doubt that you probably should be the most valuable player. And yet, this year’s NBA MVP race has somehow found a way to be one of the most interesting and hotly contested in recent memory.

Human statistics machine Russell Westbrook has capped off a remarkable, record-breaking year by claiming the 2016-17 NBA MVP award, at the league’s inaugural official awards ceremony in New York City a short while ago.

The Oklahoma City Thunder playmaker beat out James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs to claim his first MVP gong in a hotly-contested three-horse race for the league’s highest individual honour.

Westbrook’s incredible year saw him *average* a triple-double for the entire season, putting up 31.6 points, 10.4 assists, and 10.7 rebounds per game, in a year that also saw him register a triple-double 42 times, eclipsing the mark set by the legendary Oscar Robertson way back in 1961-62; one of those records that many thought would never be broken, given how the modern game is played.

Make no mistake about it: those are other-worldly numbers, and are more than worthy of recognition as the league’s most valuable.

What made this year’s race all the more intriguing was that compelling and strong cases could be made for both Harden and Leonard, even despite Westbrook’s numbers. Absolutely unreal, and indicative of an all-time season of basketball that’ll have few peers when viewed historically.

In accepting the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, an emotional Westbrook thanked his teammates, the Thunder organisation, and his family, fighting back tears as he tried to articulate the significant role they play in his on-court success.

Elsewhere, Draymond Green took home the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni was awarded Coach of the Year, Milwaukee’s Greek freak Giannis Antetokounmpo scored Most Improved Player, Houston journeyman Eric Gordon received the coveted Sixth Man of the Year award, and Bucks’ young gun Malcolm Brogdon won the league’s Rookie of the Year gong.

Congratulations, Russ! Thanks for the absolute joy of getting to watch that year of ball play out. There’ll be few ever like it.

Photo: Brett Deering/Getty.