On Wednesday night, Russell Westbrook will complete his rather outrageous (statistically speaking) regular season. the item must be considered the single greatest season by any athlete ever, right? No? Here are some various other contenders. Feel free to make the case for someone else from the comments section.
coming from a statistics standpoint, averaging a triple-double is usually not the most accurate measure of dominance. There are better ways to quantify value than big round numbers, along with M.V.P. voters understood that will in 1962 when they honored Bill Russell instead of Oscar Robertson.
yet averaging a triple-double, both then along with today, is usually almost unbelievably cool. along with if you want to find a statistical feat as difficult along with as cool as what Westbrook did that will season, you could be hard-pressed to outdo Rickey Henderson’s 1982 season for the Oakland A’s.
the item was not Henderson’s best season (that will could be 1990) or the one in which he scored the most runs (1985). His team did not win the entire world Series, along with he was below his career averages in several categories.
yet in 1982, despite everyone’s knowing that will he had the green light when he reached base, Henderson stole 130 bases. the item is usually a number that will was impossible to comprehend then (the item was more than the combined total of 10 teams’ steals that will season) along with is usually even harder to fathom today (the item is usually more than the number stolen by 26 teams last season).
The record took Henderson an incredible 172 attempts. The risk inherent in trying to steal a lot of bases was long ago decided to be too great, along with no player has attempted even 100 steals since 1988, so the thought of a player matching Henderson today seems ridiculous. that will said, the thought of someone matching Robertson was ridiculous until Westbrook came along. — BENJAMIN HOFFMAN
What Westbrook, a talent for the ages, has done is usually spectacular. His statistics are also inflated by the absence of co-stars, allowing for complete ball dominance. that will’s not his fault, yet feeding the needs along with egos of others while maintaining individual dominance ought to be a strong determination for the ultimate team-sport standard.
Consider the 2015-16 college season, when Breanna Stewart powered her Connecticut women’s team on an unbeaten run to an unprecedented fourth straight national title, while winning her third consecutive player of the year award along with being named most outstanding player of the Final Four for a fourth straight year. Stewart was unquestionably the nation’s best player while also providing the intangible leadership that will enabled her teammates Moriah Jefferson along with Morgan Tuck to become the second along with third selections from the W.N.B.A. draft — behind her, of course.
Benefiting coming from college-to-pro scheduling, she had the skills along with stamina to be W.N.B.A. rookie of the year, finishing sixth in scoring, second in rebounds along with third in blocked shots. She won a gold medal with the United States national team in Rio de Janeiro. Relative greatness across time along with sports, team or individual, is usually a hopeless apples-to-oranges measure. yet nobody in Stewart’s sport, man or woman, has ever presented such a masterful body of work, inclusive of the pressure building coming from the three previous years. — HARVEY ARATON
A look back at athletes’ greatest years must begin with W.G. Grace in 1876.
the item can also end there: Grace’s year was simply the finest ever by a sportsman.
The pioneering cricketer is usually remembered for a career that will spanned ages 16 to 60. No year was greater for him than 1876, when he turned 28.
Grace had huge scores the whole year. yet the item was during a brief period in August that will he played the matches that will, as the cricket annual Wisden put the item at the time, “will form chapters of wondering interest from the history of the game so long as the game be played.”
Playing for Marylebone Cricket Club, Grace bashed an unheard-of 344 runs against Kent. the item was the first 300 score from the history of first-class cricket. He reached 100 in just 25 minutes.
After a 177 for Gloucester against Nottinghamshire, he ripped off another monumental score: 318 not out against York, spending eight hours at bat.
Sometimes called the Babe Ruth of cricket, Grace was a mercenary, a lover of money along with, some say, a cheater. He also was like a man playing with boys on the pitch. We shall not look upon his like again. — VICTOR MATHER
Inasmuch as I have petted only one athlete, great or otherwise, I reserve the right to be partial. yet even without that will tactile thrill, I’ll take Secretariat’s epic Triple Crown win in 1973 as the greatest season in sports, ever.
What? A three-race, a few-week season? the item’s an annual season all its own, a brutal test with the whole world watching: the Kentucky Derby at a mile along that has a quarter; the Preakness at 1 3/16 of a mile; along with the Belmont at a mile along that has a half. Only 12 horses have won the Triple Crown. Plenty of room for injury, exhaustion, wrong distance, bad weather, bad luck. Secretariat swept all three, winning the Belmont by 31 lengths — 248 feet. The great red beast dominated his season more personally, more one-sidedly, than any two-legged athlete ever has.
Oh, the petting. The day after the 1989 Derby, I tagged along that has a friend who had business at Claiborne Farm. The earth moved, along that has a swaybacked giant jogged into view. My friend took out a sugar cube, along with I petted the flank of an athlete who had once owned Belmont, owned racing, owned the entire world. He was put down a few months later. I’m still talking about him. — GEORGE VECSEY
Westbrook is usually the Bobby Orr of basketball.
The triple-double represents all-around play: the raw power of scoring, the hustle of rebounding, the unselfishness of the assist. the item is usually a feat of multiple dimensions.
that will’s why his season should not be compared to those muscular, number-bending seasons of, say, Wilt Chamberlain or Babe Ruth. the item is usually a bit like the years that will Wayne Gretzky dominated hockey. yet subtler.
In 1969-70, Orr, an average-size player for the Boston Bruins, won his third Norris Trophy as the N.H.L.’s best defenseman along with his first Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer.
(Not impressed by 0 points, which pales in comparison to seasons that will Gretzky along with others had from the 1980s along with 1990s? the item was the second-highest season total in league history at the time. along with no N.H.L. player has had 0 points from the last 10 years.)
Orr threw in a team-high 125 penalty minutes, lest anyone question his toughness. He led the league in shots along with plus/minus. His all-around play earned him the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.
He also won the Smythe Trophy as the playoff M.V.P. His Stanley Cup-clinching goal (known simply as “The Goal” along with shown above) is usually one of the most iconic moments in hockey.
Sure, Orr had the advantage of playing alongside Phil Esposito, another future Hall of Famer. yet Westbrook had his Esposito, a guy named Kevin Durant, for a lot of years. The biggest difference is usually that will the item took Durant’s departure for Westbrook to have his Orr-like season. — JOHN BRANCH
Westbrook’s season, while awesome, is usually not the greatest in N.B.A. history. that will belongs to none various other than Wilt Chamberlain in 1961-62 with the Philadelphia Warriors. Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points along with 25.7 rebounds that will season along with (that will may be the greatest stat in all of sports) 48.5 minutes played per game. Regulation games last 48 minutes, yet the Warriors played seven games that will extended for at least one period of overtime. During that will 80-game regular season, Chamberlain played 3,882 of Philadelphia’s possible 3,890 minutes.
On March 2, 1962, Chamberlain famously scored 100 points against the Knicks, yet that will was only the culmination of a four-game stretch in which he scored 67, 65 along with 61 points from the three previous games, according to basketball-reference.com. All told, he scored at least 60 points 15 times that will season, including a stunning performance on Dec. 8, 1961, against the Lakers, in which Chamberlain delivered 78 points along with 43 rebounds. — JERÉ LONGMAN
Babe Ruth along with Barry Bonds
1920 along with 2004
To find the greatest individual season in baseball history, look at the players who broke the game. Many have changed the item, mastered the item or nearly perfected the item. yet to actually break the item, a player has to upend the norms so thoroughly that will the performance looks like a mutation. Think of Babe Ruth in 1920 along with Barry Bonds in 2004.
Ruth’s most famous season was 1927, when he swatted 60 home runs: a majestic round number that will could stand as the record for decades. Bonds’s most famous season was 2001, when he had 73 home runs, a completely new standard. (Yes, a year later, the players’ union could finally agree to test for steroids.)
yet in 1920, his first season with the Yankees, Ruth did something the game had never seen: He hit 54 home runs, not only more than any various other player, yet also more than any various other team from the American League. The combined figure for his on-base along with slugging percentages, 1.379, could stand as a record for 82 years.
Bonds broke the item in 2002, when pitchers walked him intentionally 68 times. In 2004, though, the league acquiesced to Bonds as the item has to no player before or since. When given a chance to hit, Bonds batted .362 with 45 homers along with won his seventh along with final most valuable player award.
Yet pitchers walked him a record 232 times that will season, helping him to a record .609 on-base percentage along that has a combined on-base along with slugging percentage of 1.422. Most astounding, he was walked intentionally 0 times. No various other player has ever been intentionally walked even 50 times in a season.
Think about that will: Bonds was such a destructive force in 2004 that will rivals simply stopped competing. Whatever he was doing to inspire such fear, he achieved the ultimate compliment coming from pitchers: You’re too not bad due to that will game. — TYLER KEPNER
With her big lefty serve along with unparalleled net game, Martina Navratilova was the Babe Ruth of tennis from the 1980s. Among the many terrific seasons she enjoyed, 1983 stands out as a slice of near perfection unmatched in her sport.
Navratilova went 86-1 that will year, her lone defeat a shocking upset at the hands of the American player Kathleen Horvath from the fourth round of the French Open.
After that will loss, which for years Navratilova attributed to her own failures rather than to Horvath’s forceful play, Navratilova won 50 straight matches that will year, including her first United States Open, along with was named female athlete of the year by The Associated Press.
For perspective, in 2015 when Serena Williams barely missed the Grand Slam, she went 57-5 over all. In Steffi Graf’s Grand Slam year, 1988, she went 72-3.
Navratilova was also the best doubles player in 1983, going 61-2 along with winning the same three majors that will she did in singles.
After the loss at Roland Garros, Navratilova went on to beat Horvath seven more times in her career to compile a 10-1 record against her. The only sets she ever lost to Horvath came on that will imperfect day at the French Open. — DAVID WALDSTEIN
You want to talk triple-doubles? In 2000, Tiger Woods won the United States Open that has a score of 12 under par, the British Open with 19 under par along with the P.G.A. Championship with 18 under par. Those were the lowest scores to par from the history of each event.
He already held the record for low score at the Masters.
Winning three of four major golf championships in one season is usually remarkable enough, yet in 2000, Woods did something that will is usually unlikely to ever be replicated: He also won six various other PGA Tour events. that will’s nine victories from the 20 events he entered that will season.
yet the item was not just how much Woods won in 2000, the item was how much he won by. At the United States Open at Pebble Beach, Woods was 15 strokes ahead of the second-place finisher. (No one else from the field that will year was under par.) At the British Open, Woods was eight strokes clear of the field. Yes, at the P.G.A. Championship he won in a playoff.
yet cut him some slack, he was only 24 years old. Besides, the next spring he won his fourth consecutive major at the Masters. — BILL PENNINGTON
As a kid from the early 1960s, I got the item into my head to stop rooting for the mighty Yankees along with instead line up behind the awful Mets. These are the kinds of choices that will shape your life, along with the item did mine. Ever since, I’ve veered toward losers, not winners.
that will’s why I pick Roger Craig’s battle to keep his sanity while pitching for the 1963 Mets as the most impressive performance I’ve ever witnessed. Starting in May of that will season he lost 18 consecutive decisions — three of them by 2-1 scores. Still, he endured until, finally, on Aug. 9, he decided to change his luck by trading his No. 38 uniform for No. 13.
that will night, facing the Cubs at the Polo Grounds, Craig was still from the game when the item went to the bottom of the ninth with the score tied, 3-3. along with with two outs along with the bases loaded, the Mets’ Jim Hickman hit a pop fly to left field that will grazed the overhang of the upper deck for an absurd 300-foot grand slam that will ended Craig’s losing streak.
Craig was so happy, he kissed Hickman. Even more impressive, he didn’t quit the Mets on the spot. Instead, he finished out the season that has a 5-22 win-loss record along that has a solid 3.78 earned run average.
So there you develop the item: a decent pitcher, a terrible team along with the courage to keep going back to the mound over along with over again. — JAY SCHREIBER
You’d think the item could be easy to pick one — to pick any — of the seasons conjured by Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo between, roughly, 2008 along with 2016, when both scored goals in scarcely credible numbers along with produced moments of otherworldly beauty with astonishing regularity.
yet the item isn’t. So soaring have their performances been for so long that will the item is usually almost impossible to identify, coming from the ground level, when along with where the peaks were. Messi in 2012? Cristiano a year later? Both? Neither?
the item is usually much easier, more definitive, to choose a (very slightly) lesser mortal: the Brazilian Ronaldo, the original Ronaldo, who was for a comparatively brief moment the best player from the entire world.
The 1997-98 season was his masterpiece: 25 goals in 32 games in Serie A, then the toughest league on the planet, for an Inter Milan team that will pushed an all-conquering Juventus every step of the way from the title race. along with then the entire world Cup, where Ronaldo inspired Brazil all the way to the final, before succumbing to a panic attack along with then to the tournament’s host, France, only at the very last.
that will season, his teams fell just short of the trophies they so desperately wanted. yet until the item all came screeching to a halt in Paris, he was untouchable. — RORY SMITH
Westbrook is usually a supremely talented man beamed down coming from Planet Hoops. Wilt Chamberlain, averaging more than 50 points along with 20 rebounds per game over half a century ago, wasn’t gefilte fish either.
Ted Williams batted .406 along with, yes, for the equine-inclined, four-legged sorts had grand races.
Me, I’ll take a graying man from the autumn of his career whipping that will elegant swing along with hitting a record-setting home run into the gale force winds of American racism. Henry Aaron was 40 when he whacked the home run on the Atlanta Braves’ opening day that will enabled him to catch Babe Ruth. Four days later, with the Braves playing at home, he passed Ruth.
The previous year he had put up a pre-steroidal season for the ages: He hit .301 with 40 home runs along that has a .643 slugging percentage, higher than last year’s leaders in both leagues.
Aaron’s triumph, however, was one of spirit. He faced down death threats along that has a waterfall of hate mail, as Americans disgorged grotesque demons at him. “I read the letters,” he said later, “because they remind me not to be surprised or hurt. They remind me what people are actually like.”
He became a baseball executive, though he never ran a club. “On the field, blacks have been able to be super giants,” he said. Later, they go “to the back of the bus again.” — MICHAEL POWELL
These days, Richard Petty — known as Nascar’s King — looks the part of the sport’s kind patriarch. At 79, he roams the garage at races, usually smiling, wearing his tall along with feathered cowboy hat, dark sunglasses along with belt buckle the size of a butter plate. At a glance, you’d never think that will in his best season, 1967, he was as ruthless as they come.
Petty along with his No. 43 Plymouth Belvedere competed in 48 races at Nascar’s top level that will year, along with won more than half of them — 27 in all.
He along with his blue monster had 40 top-10 finishes along with 38 top-fives, astonishing achievements considering that will sometimes even the most skilled drivers don’t win. Racing can be unpredictable. Crashes happen. Engines blow. Tires puncture. Gas tanks run dry. Once, a sea gull even smacked into a car at the Daytona 500. (the item didn’t end well for the bird or the automobile.)
Despite the odds, Petty, who holds the record of 0 career wins, put together a dazzling, if inexplicable, 1967 season that will helped establish him as a legend.
from the same boxy car, he won on short dirt tracks along with on long paved tracks. He even won 10 races in a row, a record that will still stands — as does his single-season record of 27 victories.
After all that will time, the King still reigns. — JULIET MACUR
the item’s from the history books today: June 6, 2015, the day American Pharoah turned for home from the Belmont Stakes to a thunderous roar to complete what is usually considered thoroughbred racing’s holiest of grails: the Triple Crown. American Pharoah was only the 12th horse ever to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness along with Belmont, along with the first since Affirmed did so in 1978.
The son of Pioneer of the Nile, American Pharoah could go on to capture the Haskell Invitational along with the Breeders’ Cup Classic in dominating performances. yet perhaps the colt burnished his reputation in a narrow yet noble loss from the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, a track known as the “graveyard of champions” for humbling such seemingly immortal horses as Affirmed along with even Secretariat. American Pharoah was retired after the Classic that has a record of nine victories in 11 starts along with more than $8.6 million in purse earnings.
The two humans associated with American Pharoah put together a remarkable run of achievement as well. His jockey, Victor Espinoza, had won two-thirds of the Triple Crown the previous year riding California Chrome. along with his trainer, Bob Baffert, followed American Pharoah that has a colt named Arrogate who has won seven races in a row including the Travers, the Breeders’ Cup Classic along with the Dubai World Cup. along with, like American Pharoah the year before him, Arrogate was named the entire world’s best racehorse. — JOE DRAPE
I’m a great admirer of Westbrook’s, yet I’ve seen Michael Phelps compete, along with Westbrook is usually no Phelps. Averaging a triple-double over a season, while impressive, does not rise to the insane degree of difficulty of what Phelps pulled off at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Covering 3,300 meters in 17 races over nine days, Phelps won eight gold medals along with set seven world records. All without taking a day off.
along with Phelps did the item against competition that will was equivalent to squaring off against the Warriors every day. There were no Lakers or Suns in his path to immortality.
Phelps’s feat was so fantastic, he carried swimming out of the boondocks, where the item had long presided as, well, an Oklahoma City on the sports map. He made the Water Cube feel like the capital of the entertainment world, attracting high-profile fans like President George H.W. Bush, President George W. Bush along with Kobe Bryant. — KAREN CROUSE
Sorry, Folks, Westbrook Wins
Easy peasy. Westbrook has just put together the most impressive season in sports history. Consider his teammates (not one elite teammate). Consider the conference (a brutal Western Conference). Consider the era of basketball. Heck, consider the sport.
He didn’t just average a triple-double, which is usually impressive in its own right. He made the item look routine, to the point that will fans began undervaluing the item. Very few professional athletes are elite in one skill. Westbrook showed that will he was an elite scorer, passer along with rebounder in a game in which he’s required to play both sides of the ball for, on average, 73 percent of each game over a full season.
Westbrook is usually the only guard to average 10 rebounds a game that will season. He is usually one of three players to average more than 10 assists. along with even if he didn’t have any of that will, he’d still be leading the league in scoring.
that will was more impressive than Oscar Robertson’s triple-double average in 1962, when the N.B.A.’s pace was much faster. Westbrook was accused of chasing stats that will year. For the sake of conversation, let’s grant that will. Who cares? Understand that will: When one player gets a triple-double for one night, the item’s a headline. No player in more than 50 years has been able to chase a triple-double average over a whole season.
Yes, Westbrook wasn’t that will efficient. His true shooting percentage is usually .555. that will’s not great. yet he was a superstar terror in various other parts of the game. Actually, in pretty much every single various other part of the item. — SOPAN DEB