The NBA is adding a new award to its growing stable, as the inaugural Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award will be announced and presented on Sunday night at 7 p.m. ET. The announcement will come just one hour before Game 2 of the 2013 NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat tips off.
UPDATE: Sunday, June 9, at 6:33 p.m. ET by Eric Ball
Clippers guard Chauncey Billups is the inaugural winner of the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports:
Brad Turner of the LA Times confirmed the report.
---End of update---
This accolade will recognize both the on-court achievements and off-court leadership of players around the league.
Harry How/Getty Images
According to Steve Aschburner of NBA.com, 12 active players are finalists for the award. The list of recognizable stars can be found below, and every person on it should be known as much for his humanitarian efforts as his basketball prowess.
Jerry Stackhouse Brooklyn Nets
Luke Walton Cleveland Cavaliers
Andre Iguodala Denver Nuggets
Jarrett Jack Golden State Warriors
Roy Hibbert Indiana Pacers
Chauncey Billups Los Angeles Clippers
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
Emeka Okafor Washington Wizards
The award is jointly named for Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes, two Pittsburgh natives who landed on the Cincinnati Royals in 1955, according to Sporting News.
As teammates, they had a short but successful tenure with the organization-which would eventually become the Sacramento Kings-that ran through the 1957-58 campaign.
In a late-season showdown against Minneapolis, Stokes suffered a head injury later diagnosed as post-traumatic encephalopathy, which left him permanently paralyzed.
Twyman and Stokes, photo credit Associated Press via post-gazette.com
In the years following the devastating injury, Twyman took over as Stokes' legal guardian when his family wasn't able to provide the financial support and care he needed to survive.
The veteran forward raised money via charitable events and helped win a workers-injury compensation case to acquire the funds required to aid his friend and former teammate.
From which conference will the winner come?
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The winner of the award will be decided by a vote among peers, as a panel of NBA legends was tasked to narrow down the list to six representatives from each conference.
According to Aschburner, players were not allowed to vote for their own teammates, and a weighted point scale will be used with first place being worth 10 points, second worth seven, third worth four, fourth worth three and fifth worth one.
Both Hall of Fame players are currently deceased-Stokes passed away in 1970 and Twyman in 2012-but this posthumous recognition is something their families should be proud of, the finalists should be honored to be in the running for and the recipient proud to display.