Basketball season is drawing to an end. High school titles have been awarded, college basketball champions have been crowned, and the pros have moved into the postseason. Somewhere between the end of March Madness and the start of the NBA playoffs, the NBA quietly announced its finalists for the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award.
I wish the NBA would make a bigger deal of that announcement, and I wish the media would give the announcement the coverage it deserves.
Unlike the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award, which is chosen by a panel of media, the Teammate of the Year award is voted on exclusively by the league’s current players. The award recognizes the player who best embodies the characteristics of the ideal teammate. In my opinion, no greater honor exists than for the members of your team to honor you as being the team’s best teammate.
The NBA chose worthy namesakes—Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes—for the award. The story of the former Cincinnati Royals (Sacramento Kings) teammates is beyond inspiring. When an awkward fall in a 1958 game against the Minneapolis Lakers left Stokes paralyzed, Twyman assumed full legal guardianship of his teammate.
Twyman organized numerous fundraising events to cover Stokes’ medical bills and faithfully cared for Stokes until the day he died.
My brief summation doesn’t come close to doing their story justice. But today’s edition of Teammate Tuesday isn’t meant to be a retelling of the Twyman-Stokes story. It’s already been told by far better storytellers in far more deserving forums than what I am able to offer. (*If you want to learn more about their amazing relationship, then I recommend checking out Pat Farabaugh’s beautifully written book An Unbreakable Bond: The Brotherhood of Maurice Stokes and Jack Twyman.)
Today is about the ripple effect of good teammate moves.
In a 2008 New York Post article, Jack Twyman explained his reasoning for helping his paralyzed teammate. “Maurice was on his own,” Twyman said. “Something had to be done and someone had to do it. I was the only one there so I became that someone.”
Saint Francis University, Stokes’ alma mater, turned Twyman’s quote into their athletic department’s theme. Signage around campus encourages students to “reach out to those in need of friendship and brotherhood” and Become that Someone. The message is omnipresent.
Kudos to Saint Francis for perpetuating such a noble message. Their good teammate move is making the world a better place.
Become that Someone captures the essence of being a good teammate. When a member of our team is in need—and we all belong to some type of team—then we not only have an opportunity to help, we have an obligation to help. Every one of us has it within our being to make a difference in the life of someone else.
Don’t overthink it. And don’t hold back. To Become that Someone is easier than most realize. A warm smile, a comforting hug, or just a receptive ear can start the process. If you care enough to go that far, then you’ve already proven yourself capable of going much farther. Allow yourself to be invested and to be the someone your teammates need.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.
(*Above: Jack Twyman addresses the crowd before a game, while teammate Maurice Stokes sits nearby in his wheelchair. Photo courtesy of Saint Francis University Athletics.)
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