Remember Fat Lever aka Russell Westbrook 1.0?
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Aka VincentDa & RedApples fka Expiredpineapples. My alter-ego is a digital-marketing guy in Houston. Won editing awards & created obsolete flash websites that have been featured in mags like Sports Illustrated. Studied film & women at FSU during the golden age of hip-hop. Collects records, laserdiscs, sports memorabilia & toys. Father of 2 daughters that are more athletic and popular on YouTube.
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Let me make this very clear so I’m not labeled a Westbrook hater: I AM A FAN AND HAVE BEEN A FAN OF RUSSELL WESTBROOK FOR THE PAST NINE YEARS! Let me also make t his very clear so I’m not labeled one of those old guys who think everything was better in the past: I DO NOT THINK FAT LEVER WAS AS GOOD AS RUSSELL WESTBROOK.
With that said, I’m not willing to label Westbrook’s triple-double season the “greatest season ever” because I’m old enough to remember when nobody gave a damn about triple-doubles. I remember when Magic Johnson was averaging less than half a rebound and assist away from a triple-double while sharing point-guard duties with Norm Nixon. I remember when the Lakers PR team came up with the term “triple-double” and told us we should be celebrating it because Magic Johnson was getting them so often.
I can hear the Westbrook fanatic screaming, “Magic Johnson was 6-9 and Brodie is only 6-3!”
True! And that leads me to Lafayette “Fat” Lever aka “the most underrated triple-double threat in history (yes, I’m quoting myself).” The 2 x NBA All-Star point guard averaged at least 19/8/8 for three consecutive seasons and even led his Denver Nuggets in rebounding for four consecutive seasons…and he was 6-3 with a quarter of the hops and athleticism of Westbrook.
Let’s first check out some of the fattest stats from Fat.
- (1987 vs Cavs) 20pts, 20rebs, 12asts, 6stls
- (1987 vs Rockets) 22pts, 21rebs, 7asts
- (1987 vs Nets) 21pts, 13rebs, 14asts, 8stls
- (1986 vs Suns) 29pts, 17rebs, 9asts, 4stls
- (1985 vs Pacers) 13pts, 15asts, 10stls
- (1987 vs Mavs) 25pts, 19rebs, 13asts
- (1988 vs Warriors) 15pts, 13rebs, 23asts, 5stls
- (1987 vs Bulls) 31pts, 16rebs, 12asts, 6stls
- (1986 vs Blazers) 30pts, 10rebs, 7asts, 5stls
- (1986 vs Bucks) 25pts, 15rebs, 12asts
- (1986 vs Bucks) 25pts, 15rebs, 12asts
- (1988 vs Heat) 38pts, 12rebs, 7asts, 4stls
What makes these stats even crazier is he had one of the best scoring machines ever, Alex English, and the very underrated 5-10 point guard Michael Adams on his team for a few of these seasons. Like the 1987/88 one, when Fat averaged 19/8/8 and helped lead the Nuggets to the best record in the Midwest Division with 54 wins. So the big question is, “Where did he finish in the MVP voting?” How about 9th! The winner was Michael Jordan, since he led the league in scoring, while shooting 53% and also won the Defensive Player of The Year award.
How about the following season for Fat, when he averaged less than a rebound and two assists from a triple-double while putting up 20 points a game? Despite the fat numbers and votes for Defensive Player Of The Year, Fat wasn’t even in the top 17 in MVP voting because his team was just 3rd in the division. That’s how it was back then. MVP awards weren’t given to players just because they could fill up a stat sheet. It didn’t matter that he was a 6-3 point guard capable of putting up 20 rebounds in a triple-double, 20 assists in a triple-double or even 10 steals (he had a NBA record 8 in one quarter) in a triple-double. In the 80s, the MVP award was going to a player putting up fat stats on a team contending for a championship (pretty much just Moses Malone, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird).
Earlier this year, Vince Cellini talked to a very modest sounding Fat about being “the forgotten man of triple-doubles” and what guys like James Harden and Russell Westbrook are doing today. He gave them all the praise they deserve then pointed out the frequency of this accomplishment now is because guys are trying to get them because of the emphasis and buzz on stats and analytics. I agree and 100% believe if guys like him and Magic Johnson gave a damn about getting a triple-double in a time when fantasy sports didn’t exist and people weren’t betting money on individual stats, they would have averaged a triple-double for a season…multiple seasons!