Russell Westbrook got a dap of appreciation from his NBA peers on Friday.
The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard and reigning NBA MVP earned three trophies in the annual National Basketball Players Association Players Voice Awards on Friday: “Most Valuable Player,” “Hardest to Guard” and, no surprise here, “Best Dressed.”
It has been a banner year for Brodie, the fearless fashion maverick who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated‘s “Fashionable 50” in June. Westbrook has become as famous for his daring off-the-court style choices as his jaw-dropping on-court athleticism. Unlike many of the NBA’s taller players, the former UCLA Bruin has used his relatively small frame (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) to wear off-the-rack clothing that is at times adventurous, trendsetting or just plain weird.
Over the years, Westbrook’s high-concept style has even coined a phrase: “Westbrookian.” Ever see an NBA star wearing skinny jeans with an oversized ripped-to-shreds T-shirt before a game? Or colorful sunglasses to a news conference, or bleached denim or capri-length pants with slide sandals? That’s all No. 0. And while other athletes have dared to wear harem pants or a full-length fur coat, only Westbrook can really make it look effortless.
Billed as “the only awards voted on BY the players, FOR the players,” the annual Players Voice Awards are voted on at the end of the regular season.
The winners were announced Friday morning on the NBPA’s Twitter feed in a series of short videos. Hosted by former Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh, the lively clips were tweeted out every five minutes for nearly an hour, with the award categories getting breezy explanatory assists from an All-Star roster of the league’s biggest players.
“The Player You Secretly Wish Was on Your Team” was awarded to LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers captain who also nabbed “Global Impact Player.”
Other awards went to:
- “Best Rookie” – Malcolm Brogdon, the former Virginia shooting guard who had a standout year with the Milwaukee Bucks.
- “Best Defender” – Kawhi Leonard, the San Antonio Spurs forward and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
- “Most Influential Veteran” – Vince Carter, the 40-year-old shooting guard currently signed with the Sacramento Kings, giving credence to his long-standing “half-man, half amazing” legend within pop culture.
- “Comeback Player of the Year” and “Best Social Media Follow” – Joel Embiid, the Rihanna-loving, Lavar Ball-hating All-Star and Philadelphia 76ers center.
- “Clutch Performer” – Isaiah Thomas, who led the Boston Celtics in the postseason despite personal tragedy.
- “Best Home Court Advantage” – Golden State Warriors and the spirited fans who attend Dubs home games in Oracle Arena.
- “Best off the Bench” – Lou Williams, the shooting guard who was traded last year from the Houston Rockets to the L.A. Clippers as part of the Chris Paul deal.
- “Coach You Most Like to Play For” – San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who has won this award three years in a row.
The decision to announce award winners via Twitter came from “not wanting to interrupt the NBA’s Awards,” which was televised in June, said Jordan Schlachter, president of National Basketball Players Inc. “We also didn’t want to get caught up in the busy news of free agency, so we pushed it to August.”
Schlachter noted that this year’s winners will receive trophies early in the 2017-18 NBA season during halftime ceremonies at home games around the league.