After NBA.com's Steve Aschburner announced that the NBA would be handing out a new NBA award before Game 2 of the Finals, fans took to Twitter with speculation over the name. My own personal suggestion for Best Postgame Wardrobes (Dwyane Wade) or @TeamZiller's Commissioner of the Year award were each incorrect. Instead, the NBA will be announcing the winner of its first annual Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award. While unknown to the majority of even the most ardent fans, the story of Maurice Stokes and Jack Tywan is an intriguing one that extends beyond the 4,700 square feet of an NBA court.
Via Yahoo Sports:
Twyman acted as former teammate Maurice Stokes' caretaker for the last 12 years of Stokes' life, after the former Royals forward suffered significant brain damage during an injury sustained in the final game of the 1957-58 season, cutting short a promising career (to say the absolute least) that saw Stokes average a combined 33.7 points/rebounds a contest for the Royals.
Worse, with Stokes' family hundreds of miles away and workers compensation failing to cover the costs of his care in the years before the NBA developed a strong union and significant pension plan, Stokes was just about left to his own devices as he grew more and more destitute. This is where Twyman came in, organizing fundraisers for his former teammate, visiting him weekly, and essentially acting as his caretaker (while working as an NBA All-Star, while running his own insurance company in the NBA's offseason, and while working as ABC's lead color analyst) until Stokes' passing in 1970.
The award winner will be announced before Game 2,but there's been no indication that the winner will be a member of the Heat or Spurs. The finalists for the award include Jerry Stackhouse, Luke Walton, Andre Iguodala, Jarrett Jack, Roy Hibbert, Chauncey Billups, Chauncey "Sherpa" Billups, Shane Battier, Roger Mason Jr., Jason Kidd, Serge Ibaka, Emeka Okafor and Manu GInobili. Jason Kidd is the sentimental choice, because of his recent retirement, but it may very well be Shane Battier. Sure he's become a bit of a flopera artist in recent seasons, but for the duration of his career, Battier's been the modern charge-taking king of the NBA. If you look at the award's sculpture, it's as similar to Battier as the league's logo is to Jerry West. How often have NBA fans seen Battier offering or accepting a similar hand from a teammate on his back over the last decade plus? If you ask me, it's a match made in award heaven.