Billups Is Inaugural Winner of Twyman/Stokes Teammate Award





MIAMI – Awards in whatever walk of life typically honor the latest recipients, and if they happen to be named after someone, there occasionally can be some head-scratching and quizzical looks as to who that was and what exactly they did to get a trophy named after them.

A bunch of hockey players, for instance, are grinding out a championship series over the next two weeks for a silver cup named for … Lord Stanley? And the NBA surely gets it that while everyone knows what an MVP is, not everyone knows that Maurice Podoloff – for whom the trophy is named – was the league’s first commissioner.

The Twyman/Stokes Teammate of the Year Award is going to be different, if the league and the players who win it have anything to say about it.

The new postseason award – won for 2012-13 by Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups – was created precisely to keep the names Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes alive as symbols of sportsmanship, selflessness and other traits associated with not-just-good-but-great teammates.

Their story – Twyman becoming legal guardian and advocate for Stokes after his Cincinnati Royals teammate suffered a paralyzing brain injury in 1958, helping with his medical costs, sticking by his friend – is one that resonated throughout the league long after Stokes’ death in 1970 at age 36, and even more so after Twyman’s passing in 2012.

“The relationship shared by Jack and Maurice is as profound an illustration of compassionate and unconditional fellowship between two teammates that the NBA has ever seen,” NBA commissioner David Stern said at the presentation ceremony an hour before Game 2 of The Finals Sunday.

“We will get the opportunity to retell the story of Maurice Stokes and Jack Twyman on each occasion of the award’s being given.”

Billups, a 16-year veteran, directed some of his remarks upon accepting the award to son Jay Twyman and other members of Twyman’s family who attended the event at AmericanAirlines Arena. “I think even older players like myself to the younger guys need to know the story,” he said. “The story is the most unbelievable story I’ve ever heard in sports. And I’m just glad that my name could be mentioned alongside Mr. Twyman.”

At 36, having played for seven different NBA franchises, one could say that Billups was on the campaign trail without ever knowing about it. He was chosen in a vote of all NBA players from a ballot of 12 nominees, six from each conference selected by a panel of NBA Legends. The criteria: selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and his commitment and dedication to his team. Or in his case, teams.

Other finalists included Jerry Stackhouse (Brooklyn Nets), Luke Walton (Cleveland Cavaliers), Andre Iguodala (Denver Nuggets), Jarrett Jack (Golden State Warriors), Roy Hibbert (Indiana Pacers), Shane Battier (Miami Heat), Roger Mason, Jr. (New Orleans Hornets), Jason Kidd (New York Knicks), Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder), Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs), and Emeka Okafor (Washington Wizards).

A point system was used — 10 points for a first-place vote, seven for second, five for third, three for fourth and one for fifth. Players were not allowed to vote for a player on their own team.

That last part might seem odd for a “teammate” award, but Billups – whose leadership was key to the Detroit Pistons’ 2004 NBA championship – is known throughout the players’ community as a solid citizen, generous with his time and more.

Noting that he never has had to sacrifice for a teammate the way Twyman did in caring for Stokes, Billups said: “I had to help a few teammates through some really, really tough family situations in a few different ways. … I never thought twice about it because I knew they needed it, and they respected me enough and looked up to me enough to ask me.”

11 Comments

  1. Cat says:

    I was so gratified to hear that Jack and Mo’s unique friendship will forever be remembered and honored through this award. What an incredible story, and for those who don’t know it, try to track down the video “Maurie”. My Aunt Dorothy was Maurice’s fiancee when his accident happened. She was so devoted to him, she refused to move forward with her life, even after him asking her to move on with her life. After his death, she eventually married, but Maurice truly was the love of her life. Jack and his family’s devotion to Mo should be taught and retaught. It’s not about the signing bonuses and Nike deals, it’s about teamwork and dedication and being the best person you can be- on and off the court.

  2. PowwoW says:

    Will there ever be a Fisher/Martin Award for Oscar Flopping Performance?

    • PowwoW says:

      If the T/S trophy is a teammate pulling another up, I can only imagine what Fisher/Martin trophy would look like :p.. Sorry but GJ Billup!

  3. ric horca says:

    Luke Walton was a surprise. He was a good for nothing player. It pays to ride on the back of his father name.

  4. Nathan says:

    Was Grant Hill excluded because of his recent retirement? Odd that he wasn’t on the list when that is one of the things he was known for throughout his career. To not even get a mention at all surprises me.

    But that said, a VERY deserving winner.

  5. Congrats Chauncy-great job & well deseved, keep up the giving of self.

  6. J says:

    what the hell did he do?!?!?
    congrats?

  7. Max says:

    This award could not have gone to a more deserving person. Congrat.

  8. Rodolfo Rojas says:

    Kudos to the NBA for introducing this great idea of recognizing character on and off the field. This award says more to me about a player than the MVP award, because at the end of the day character is more important than talent. Congrats Billups. God Bless.
    John 13:34-35

  9. Kobe says:

    You go Billups!!

  10. great player…

    nah very good player great teammate!!