Steve Smith wins NBA Sportsmanship honor

June 12, 2002 at 2:37 PM
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NEW YORK, June 12 (UPI) -- Veteran San Antonio Spurs guard Steve Smith

Wednesday was named winner of the 2001-02 NBA Sportsmanship Award, honoring the player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.

It marks the third time in five years a member of the Spurs has earned the award, following center David Robinson last season and guard Avery Johnson in 1997-98.

"The award is truly an honor since there are so many great competitors in the NBA," Smith said. "I want to be part of a great team and this award is a wonderful example of our commitment to one another and dedication to teamwork on and off the court.

Smith was presented with the Joe Dumars Trophy by NBA Commissioner David Stern at a news conference Wednesday afternoon at the NBA Store. He has asked that the $25,000 bonus money be donated to Reading is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), the nation's largest children's and family literacy organizations.

Smith received 65 of 126 votes from a panel consisting of 39 national media members and three media members who cover the NBA regularly from each of the league's 29 teams.

P.J. Brown of the Charlotte Hornets finished second with 28 votes. LaPhonso Ellis of the Miami Heat was third with 22 votes, and Shawn Marion of the Phoenix Suns was third with 11 votes.

The Sportsmanship Award is named after Dumars, the former Detroit Pistons guard who was the original recipient in 1995-96 and is now the Pistons' Vice President.

The annual award is part of a larger program, the NBA Sportsmanship Initiative, which also includes the WNBA and the National Basketball Development League (NBDL) and focuses on fostering the ideals of sportsmanship -- ethical behavior, fair play, and integrity -- in amateur and professional basketball players.

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