OKLAHOMA CITY — It should come as no surprise to Oklahoma City fans, but 7-foot center Steven Adams has been named one of 12 finalists for the NBA's Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award.
It is one of the league's most treasured honors – one that celebrates selflessness and commitment to others. Adams is revered for his good nature, character and loyalty. He's widely thought of as a role model, using his platform with the Thunder to impact the community in positive ways.
And famously, so did the award's namesakes. If you've never heard it, the story behind the friendship of Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes is incredibly heartwarming.
The two men were teammates for the Rochester/Cincinnati Royals from 1955-58. Tragically, a career-ending head injury during a game paralyzed Stokes. As his friend and advocate, Twyman became Stokes’ legal guardian and supported him for the rest of his life.
Twyman sued for Stokes to receive workers compensation, and he held benefit concerts and charity basketball games. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Twyman held a campaign where children collected pennies. People all over Ohio and the country pitched in to assist with medical costs.
"That’s because Stokes touched so many people," the newspaper reported. "He encouraged kids in the hospital gloomy over their ailments. He inspired others with his character. His mind was never impaired. He read history and poetry. He learned to paint and make pottery and to type."
The Enquirer said Stokes' first note was to Twyman: “DEAR JACK: HOW CAN I EVER THANK YOU?”
Twyman always insisted he only did what anyone would do for a friend.
Stokes died in 1970. Twyman died in 2012. Both are in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The 2019 Twyman-Stokes winner will be announced at the NBA's annual awards ceremony.
Among OKC's Adams, other finalists are: Mike Conley, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, Rudy Gay, Udonis Haslem, Andre Iguodala, Kyle Korver, Khris Middleton, JJ Redick, Garrett Temple and Thaddeus Young.
Past winners include:
’18 - Jamal Crawford, Minnesota T’wolves
‘17 - Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
‘16 - Vince Carter, Memphis Grizzlies
‘15 - Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
‘14 - Shane Battier, Miami Heat
‘13 - Chauncey Billups, Los Angeles Clippers
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