forward Shane Battier
(left) won the NBA's 2014 Teammate of the Year award after finishing second to Chauncey Billups
last season. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)
The NBA announced Saturday that Heat forward Shane Battier is the second annual winner of the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award.
The award -- which recognizes the "ideal teammate" who displays "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" -- was first presented last year, with then-Clippers guard Chauncey Billups being named the inaugural winner. Battier finished second in last year's voting.
The award takes its name from Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes, who spent three seasons as teammates on the Rochester Royals and Cincinnati Royals in the 1950s. Stokes suffered a career-ending head injury in 1958 and fell into a coma after a series of seizures. The injury eventually left Stokes paralyzed and Twyman soon became his legal guardian, caring for him and helping raise money for his medical bills.
“Maurice was on his own,” Twyman told The New York Post in 2008. “Something had to be done and someone had to do it. I was the only one there, so I became that someone.”
The Twyman-Stokes trophy depicts Twyman holding a basketball in one hand and extending the other to help Stokes up from the court.
The Twyman-Stokes Trophy depicts Jack Twyman lending a hand to Maurice Stokes. (NBA)
Battier emerged from a field of 12 finalists that also included Al Jefferson (Bobcats), Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks), Chris Paul (Clippers), Pau Gasol (Lakers), Manu Ginobili (Spurs), Channing Frye (Suns), Andre Iguodala (Warriors), Jameer Nelson (Magic), Elton Brand (Hawks), David West (Pacers) and Mike Dunleavy (Bulls).
Six finalists were selected from each conference by a panel of former NBA players and the league's current players voted on the winner, with players being unable to vote for their own teammates. Following Battier, Jefferson finished second, Nowitzki third, Paul fourth and Gasol fifth.
The Teammate of the Year award joins the league's Citizenship Award, which recognizes community service contributions, and the Sportsmanship Award, which honors on-court integrity, as annual "non-basketball" awards.
Battier, 35, averaged 4.1 points and 1.9 rebounds in 73 appearances for the Heat. A 13-year pro out of Duke, Battier has won two titles with the Heat. He enters the offseason as an unrestricted free agent but indicated in March that he will likely retire.
Twyman and Stokes are members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Twyman died of blood cancer at the age of 78 in 2012; Stokes died of a heart attack at age 36 in 1970.
The Heat will host the Pacers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday. The series is tied at one game apiece.