Former NBA champion makes bold statement about LA Clippers player

Was Westbrook ever the best in the world?
Was Westbrook ever the best in the world? / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Russell Westbrook of the LA Clippers has always been a polarizing player. When he was in his athletic prime, fans around the NBA loved to debate about him. Westbrook would put up lofty stats, but could he lead his team to wins? 

It seems that the debate hasn't been settled. Before an injury, Westbrook had established a meaningful role with the Clippers. He was a Sixth Man of the Year candidate. With his career coming to a close, it seems that one former NBA champion is reigniting the old Westbrook debates with the benefit of hindsight. 

Former NBA champion says LA Clippers' Westbrook was "best in the world" 

Udonis Haslem knows what it takes to be great in the NBA. He played alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal. It seems that he saw greatness in Westbrook as well. 

"At one point, this man was the best in the world"

Udonis Haslem

To be sure, Westbrook was a force to be reckoned with. During his 2016-17 MVP season, he averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.6 assists per contest. He was the first player to average a triple double since Oscar Robertson. Was he the best in the world? 

It's debatable. Sure, Westbrook's stats in 2016-17 were awe-inspiring. Ironically, his current teammate was giving him a run for his money during that time. 

LA Clippers teammates were once each other's competition

After all, James Harden's 2016-17 season was nothing to sneeze at. As a member of the Houston Rockets, he averaged 29.1 points, 11.2 assists, and 8.1 rebounds per game that year. He was the runner-up for MVP. 

Some felt he deserved the award. After all, his Rockets won 10 more games than the Thunder's Westbrook. Surely, 10 wins is worth a half-point and a couple of rebounds less per game? 

Sure. On the other hand, Westbrook had a significantly weaker supporting cast. He dragged the Thunder to 46 wins and a playoff appearance that year. In the end, that seemed to resonate with voters. 

One could make the case that neither Westbrook or Harden were the best player in the world at that time. LeBron James had grown tired of chasing regular season MVP awards. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant were splitting votes on the Golden State Warriors. Still, Westbrook had a strong case. 

Just ask Udonis Haslem.