The NBA MVP race was hotly contested throughout the 2016-17 season, and it is only fitting Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook beat out Houston Rockets guard James Harden by a fairly tight margin.
Marc J. Spears of ESPN's The Undefeated shared the voting results for Monday's award, noting Westbrook defeated Harden by 135 total points in the voting:
Harden had an incredible season and led the league in assists with 11.2 a night while finishing second behind only Westbrook in scoring with 29.1 points per game. He also directed the Rockets to the third-best record league in the league at 55-27 and handled Westbrook's Thunder in a five-game playoff victory in the first round.
However, it's a regular-season award, and Westbrook turned in one for the ages.
He led the NBA in scoring at 31.6 points per game and broke Oscar Robertson's record for triple-doubles in a season with 42. The Thunder guard also joined Robertson as the only two players in league history to average a triple-double for an entire campaign thanks to his 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists a night.
It is not hard to make a case for either player—especially with Houston's win-loss record—which helps explain why the total points in the voting was relatively close.
Still, Westbrook was an unstoppable force throughout the regular season and made something as difficult to achieve as a triple-double routine on a nightly basis. As a result, his first-place advantage of 69 to 22 in the voting proved to be the difference.