Tip-Off Timer: After 27 Years of the Sixth Man Award, We're Still Adjusting
The NBA created the Sixth Man of the Year Award back in 1982-83, some 27 years. It was an attempt to recognize great team players who subjugated their egos to come off the bench despite obvious talent. Eventually, the award became a coronation of the league's top scorer who happened to start fewer than half of his games.
Early winners include Philadelphia stud Bobby Jones, Kevin McHale (who won twice) and Bill Walton. For all his virtuoso work, Manu Ginobili has only won one Sixth Man award, in the 2007-08 season which followed San Antonio's third title of the decade. Two players other than McHale have won twice: Detlef Schrempf and Ricky Pierce.
The award really has not been given to anyone who isn't a preeminent scorer since Aaron McKie in 2000-01. Many of the winners since have been deserving of recognition, including last season's winner (Jason Terry of the Mavericks). You wonder if at some point, though, defense will figure back into the equation. Leandro Barbosa ('06-07) and Ben Gordon ('04-05) ain't changing the game on one end, right?
Going into this season, the favorites for the award might actually include Barbosa, Gordon, Ginobili and Terry. That's not me being uncreative -- those fellows are always contenders. Rudy Fernandez, Chris Andersen, Jamal Crawford also have their sights on the title.