The first annual NBA awards shows was held in New York City on Monday night. Instead of announcing the Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man Award and Coach of the Year awards throughout the playoffs, the league decided to turn these announcements into a red carpet event after the season. The complete list of winners can be found here.
The two-hour event was brisk, by award show standards, and managed to produce some wonderful and heart-wrenching moments. Here are the highlights.
The most polarizing NBA celebrity superfan and cultural icon hosted the awards and opened with a skit on NBA handshakes featuring Will Ferrell and DeMar DeRozan:
Drake's opening monologue poked fun at his reputation as a bandwagon fan ("I root for two teams: the one from my hometown and whoever is winning at the moment."), Draymond Green's groin-kicking reputation and LeBron James' hairline:
Canadian rapper Drake roasts Warriors' Draymond Green and Cavaliers' LeBron James at NBA Awards Show pic.twitter.com/pUhOj74Gbq- Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) June 27, 2017
Later, Drake had some fun with another close friend of his, Steph Curry, in a Get Out parody:
Watching Drake deliver his monologue, I couldn't help but think how much more fun the NBA awards would be if LaVar Ball hosted instead. Well, if you missed the awards on Monday, chances are you saw LaVar's legendary performance on WWE Raw:
LAVAR BALL WITH THE GREATEST ENTRANCE IN WRESTLING HISTORY OH MY GOD ������ pic.twitter.com/tpnnSdbxee- Wobsell Perezbrook�� (@World_Wide_Wob) June 27, 2017
LaMelo and Lonzo's reaction to their dad morphing into the biggest heel in sports history easily my favorite thing this year. Unreal �� pic.twitter.com/TGZP9GAHt6- Wobsell Perezbrook�� (@World_Wide_Wob) June 27, 2017
The fashion awards
In the upset of the night, Russell Westbrook was surprisingly subdued on the red carpet:
Russell Westbrook is here. pic.twitter.com/PHcXE2RQNA- Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) June 27, 2017
Green was unsurprisingly the loudest, even with his outfit:
Draymond Green's coat needs its own award. pic.twitter.com/E14Eq6G6Fg- Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) June 27, 2017
The fan-voted awards
An underrated part of the night was the fan-voted awards for the best plays of the year. They included a shoutout to Westbrook's game-winner against the Nuggets, which eliminated them from the playoffs, for Game Winner of the Year:
Teammate Victor Oladipo won Dunk of the Year for this:
But truthfully, Larry Nance Jr.'s dunk on (now Lakers teammate) Brook Lopez should have been the winner:
Nance was feeling snubbed afterwards:
D'Antoni accepted his Coach of the Year award on stage after leading the Rockets to 55 wins in his first season as their head coach and delivered a wonderful one-liner: "I never thought I'd be in New York and have to thank the sportswriters for coach of the year, but so be it." D'Antoni's tenure in New York did not end well, but Knicks fans who are on the edge of their seats wondering if Phil Jackson will really trade Kristaps Porzingis have to be clamoring for the days of D'Antoni and Linsanity at the Garden.
But the line of the night belonged to Russell, who took the stage to receive his lifetime achievement award, then pointed at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo and said, "I would kick your ass."
In the most heart-wrenching moment of the night, Williams -- who lost his wife Ingrid in February 2016 after died from injuries sustained in a car crash -- received the Sager Strong award:
If there is a point to these award shows, it's to watch Williams take the stage and talk through his personal tragedy and find comfort in knowing how much his NBA family -- many of whom paid tribute to him in the video montage accompanying the award and some of whom were in the audience -- meant to him and will continue to mean to him.
To no one's surprise, the night ended with Westbrook winning the Most Valuable Player award. In a season in which he averaged a triple-double and led the Thunder to 47 wins after Kevin Durant's departure, Westbrook finished with 69 first-place votes, ahead of James Harden (22 first-place votes) and Kawhi Leonard (nine first-place votes).
Even though former teammate Kendrick Perkins confirmed last month that Durant and Westbrook are on speaking terms again, you couldn't help but think of Durant when Westbrook called up five of his teammates -- Nick Collison, Andre Roberson, Taj Gibson, Enes Kanter and Victor Oladipo -- on stage.
Westbrook delivered an emotional speech, thanking his mother, his little brother and his wife while fighting back tears:
And to top it off, Westbrook got a congratulatory message from Taylor Swift:
It was the proper unofficial close to the 2016-17 NBA season, with Durant as the NBA Finals MVP, and Westbrook as the regular season MVP.