Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Weekly Column

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As we’re nearing the end of the pandemic, I think it’s safe to say that no one will ever take anything for granted ever again. The NBA also applies to this new “rule.”

That is because he did it, guys. Russell Westbrook has officially passed Oscar Robertson in career triple-doubles. Robertson had 181 when he finished his decorated career in 1974. Westbrook has 182.

Westbrook’s insane triple-double run was a “random stat” last month, so of course I’m mentioning it again now that the record is shattered.

I’ll start by saying that however many triple-doubles Westbrook finishes with, no one will come close to breaking it. For crying out loud, his name is practically a synonym for triple-double!

Speaking of unbreakable records, there are a few that nobody will touch.

For example, Wilt Chamberlain is the king of rebounds. His career average of 22.9 per game is unheard of; coaches are happy if you grab ten today! John Stockton’s records for assists and steals; forget it. My guess is that Hakeem Olajuwon is not the leader in blocks. God knows how many blocks Chamberlain and Bill Russell had. They started counting steals and blocks the year after Chamberlain retired. Hmm…

Don’t let anyone make you believe that these records were overrated. Why? Because players like Robertson, Westbrook, Chamberlain, Russell, Stockton and Olajuwon are forever etched in history.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

1 Highlight, 1 Lowlight, 1 Random Stat

Highlight: “OH MY GOODNESS!” “HOW DO YOU DO?! “HUM DIDDLY DEE!”

These are catchphrases from Charlotte Hornets’ play-by-play broadcaster Eric Collins. I’ve heard these many times this season on my Bleacher Report feed. Although one reason is because of the rise of Miles Bridges, the main reason is rookie LaMelo Ball.

Kemba Walker was Charlotte’s driving force for years, but they could never get past the first round. By putting the Hornets back on the map, Ball is showing the league his scary potential.

He just returned from injury about a week and a half ago, and the Hornets were decent enough during his absence that they’re still the eighth Eastern seed. Charlotte has been a nice surprise this season. Ball is averaging 15.8 points, 6 rebounds, 6.2 assists and an impressive 1.6 steals… and he’s not even 20 years old yet!

Former Celtics Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward are stepping up for Charlotte as well [Hayward hasn’t seen the court since April 2, though].

I wouldn’t bet on the Hornets making a huge playoff run this year. However, if the core can stay healthy, they could be a solid threat soon.

Lowlight: As the saying goes: Rome wasn’t built in a day. It didn’t collapse in one day, either. For the Portland Trailblazers, the tragedy is dragging out way too long.

They have a chance at avoiding the play-in tournament after their win over the Lakers on Friday. Portland could even stay at fifth in the West. However, a recent report came out that head coach Terry Stotts will make a new friend with the door unless his crew makes a deep playoff run.

What’s the third issue? Damian Lillard’s loyalty, and let me explain.

Lillard has been with the Blazers since they drafted him in 2012. It’s rare to have players this loyal these days. A few include Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, Joel Embiid and Bradley Beal.

What a shame it is that Lillard never complains and wants to remain in the Pacific Northwest, but the Blazers have constantly underperformed [the only exception is two years ago, when they lost in the Western Conference Finals].

I’m not saying Lillard should leave Portland. I’m saying the front office needs to get talent around him, as well as a new coach [if Stotts is indeed fired]. Lillard doesn’t deserve to be taken advantage of.

Random Stat: The career of Dwight Howard has certainly been unique. From leading the Orlando Magic to the finals, to winning his first ring last year, to bouncing around six teams since 2015. In the Philadelphia 76ers win over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday, Howard moved up on two all-time leaderboards.

He surpassed Walt Bellamy for 11th most rebounds ever, and broke into the top ten in double-doubles by passing Kevin Garnett. Ironically, to get to number nine in double-doubles, Howard would pass Bellamy again!

Howard is such a great player to have. With Orlando, he won back-to-back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year Awards. His high-flying dunks gave him the nickname “Superman.” He even wore the cape during one of his spectacular dunks in his 2008 Dunk Contest victory.

Like I said earlier, no one will pass Chamberlain in rebounds. Howard may have a chance to approach Chamberlain’s double-double record though, but he’ll have to put in some hard work to get there. Regardless of these lofty numbers, never underestimate “Superman.”

***Get ready for playoff predictions next week!***

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