Chauncey Billups wins inaugural Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award

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Chauncey Billups (l) and Chris Paul at the Clippers v. Trail Blazers game, April 16, 2013. (Photo credit: LA Clippers/NBA)

Chauncey Billups (l) and Chris Paul at the Clippers v. Trail Blazers game, April 16, 2013. (Photo credit: LA Clippers/NBA)

NBA players have selected Chauncey Billups of the Los Angeles Clippers as the recipient of the inaugural Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award.

As part of its support for the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, the NBA will make a $25K donation to the charity of Billups’ choice. A panel of NBA Legends nominated six players from each conference for the award, which recognizes the NBA player deemed the best teammate based on 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.

A five-time NBA All-Star selection, Billups led the Detroit Pistons to the 2004 title, garnering Finals Most Valuable Player honors. The 16-year NBA veteran owns career averages of 15.4 points and 5.5 assists. He completed his second season with the Clippers in 2012-13, returning from a torn left Achilles tendon and overcoming various injuries to appear in 28 games, including all six postseason games.

“Chauncey Billups defines what this award was designed to recognize, a player committed to his club, his teammates and his community,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern, who presented Billups with the award Sunday prior to Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Miami. “He has mentored and guided countless young players to adopt his selfless attitude, dedication, passion for our game and to respect the history and example of players like Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes.”

Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes, whose storied friendship transcended their on-court Hall of Fame accomplishments, will be permanently honored with an annual NBA award in their names that recognizes the ideal teammate, the league announced today.

“What better way to honor the life-long bond that developed between Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes than by naming this award after them,” Stern said. “The Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award recognizes friendship and selflessness among teammates and celebrates the legacy of Jack and Maurice.”

Twyman and Stokes were friends and teammates on the Rochester/Cincinnati Royals from 1955 to 1958. In the last game of the 1957-58 regular season, Stokes suffered an on-court injury that led to him falling into a coma days later, leaving him permanently paralyzed. Diagnosed with posttraumatic encephalopathy, a brain injury that damaged his motor-control center, Stokes was supported for the rest of his life by Twyman, who became his legal guardian and advocate.

Twyman helped organize the NBA’s Maurice Stokes Memorial Basketball game, held at Kutsher’s Hotel and Country Club in Monticello, N.Y., which raised funds for Stokes’s medical care and, following his death in 1970 at age 36, for other players in need. In 2004, after years of lobbying by Twyman, Stokes was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Twyman, who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1983, died in 2012.

The trophy that will be presented annually to the Twyman-Stokes Award winner was produced by Marc Mellon, the same artist who sculpts the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, which is given annually to the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.

In this year’s award voting, Billups totaled 1,543 total points, including 64 first-place votes. Miami Heat forward Shane Battier finished second with 1,324 points (79 first-place votes), and New York Knicks guard Jason Kidd placed third with 1,048 points (42 first-place votes).

Ten points were awarded 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.  Along with the Billups, the finalists included Jerry Stackhouse (Brooklyn Nets), Luke Walton (Cleveland Cavaliers), Andre Iguodala (Denver Nuggets), Jarrett Jack (Golden State Warriors), Roy Hibbert (Indiana Pacers), Battier, Roger Mason, Jr. (New Orleans Hornets), Kidd, Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder), Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs), and Emeka Okafor (Washington Wizards).

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