New York, NY (Sports Network) - Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups was named the first winner of the NBA's Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award on Sunday.
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.
"What better way to honor the life-long bond that developed between Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes than by naming this award after them," said NBA Commissioner David Stern. "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 spent three seasons as 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.
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.
"Chauncey Billups defines what this award was designed to recognize, a player committed to his club, his teammates and his community," Stern said. "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."