Russell Westbrook’s season is over, and the Houston Rockets killed it. He won the MVP, and if you think the award should be voted on with consistent criteria year-over-year, you don’t think he deserved it.
But Westbrook’s season is over. The Rockets are still alive. And it’s time for Rockets fans to stop talking about Westbrook.
Running TDS affords me enough insight, whether it’s seeing our Twitter mentions, Facebook responses or comments below our articles, to feel like I have a pretty good sense of the fan base’s online thoughts and feelings. And, this series and this season, those thoughts have justifiably been focused, partly, on how undeserving Westbrook is of the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.
Now we know the Rockets will face the Spurs in the conference semifinals. And with it comes a chance to wash our hands of the MVP discussion for this season.
We fans are a touchy bunch. The internet drowns out the quiet voices and magnifies the loudest, hot-takey-ist. Most Rockets fans, if not the vast majority, are perfectly reasonable, nice people who love James Harden, would take several bullets for Patrick Beverley and think Harden deserved the MVP but aren’t going to harass sportswriters over their votes for that other guy.
Most, but not all.
There is a loud contingent of fans — and I admit, I have been a part of it — that have used every Thunder loss, every Westbrook miss, every stat they could find to throw shade on Westbrook voters, to try to humiliate them into feeling bad for their vote, and show them the error of their ways. It feels good to play this game. It’s cathartic. As Harden himself said, “I thought winning was what mattered,” and the Rockets did that, head-to-head with Westbrook. In fact, they did it rather easily, in the end.
But none of that matters now. The votes have been submitted, they will be announced in June to much fanfare and little suspense. The cheap satisfaction we get over “I told you so”ing 60% of the NBA media or whathaveyou, pointing out what a giant share of the vote ESPN had — and what a giant share Westbrook took from those writers after the entire network wouldn’t shut up about him for six months — is not worth perpetuating the national basketball media perception of Houston fans as online kooks and conspiracy theorists.
Rockets fans are about to square off against a fellow annoying fan base — hi, PtR — and we can seize back the narrative of being the plucky, fun underdog as long as we stop harassing MVP voters, who, in case you didn’t know already, shape the narrative collectively. Spurs fans can seize that annoying crown with more “Nobody believes in us” and “How come they’re not talking about the Spurs! #GoSpursGo” tweets than you can shake a stick at.
So, even though it sucks that Harden should really have two MVP trophies on his mantle — seriously, he could be a two-time MVP right now — the Rockets have bigger ambitions. Harden is 27, and hopefully he gets the trophy he rightly deserves. Right now, it’s our job as fans to focus on what the Rockets have left to win, rather than what they’ve already lost.