Last Friday, the National Basketball Players Association announced this year’s winners of the NBPA Players Voice Awards. These awards were voted on solely by NBA players, and contained a variety of categories that were voted on by each team. While most of the awards were league-wide, the Teammate of the Year award is awarded to one player on each team. This year, three former UNC players received awards from the NBPA:
Most Influential Veteran: Vince Carter (Sacramento Kings)
Teammate of the Year: Harrison Barnes (Dallas Mavericks)
Teammate of the Year: Marvin Williams (Charlotte Hornets)
Vince Carter will be entering his 20th season in the NBA this fall, where he will join his new team the Sacramento Kings. He is an eight-time NBA All-Star, the 1999 Rookie of the Year, an Olympic gold medalist, and the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest Champion. He just came off of a three-year stay with the Memphis Grizzlies, where he mostly served as a role player in the starting line-up.
Now 40 years of age, he is the oldest active player in the NBA and still somehow has more to give to the league. The Kings hope that his veteran presence will be of great assistance to their young team this coming season.
Harrison Barnes is coming off of his first season with the Dallas Mavericks. After being traded by the Golden State Warriors following the 2016 NBA Finals run, Barnes found himself thrown into what turned out to be a lucrative situation in the Lone Star State. During Barnes’ first season with the Mavs, he averaged 19.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game and gave a lot of people reason to believe he may be the guy to carry Dirk Nowinski’s torch when he retires.
Nowinski himself spoke about Harrison Barnes taking the torch in an interview back in June:
“Well, I think if you talk to most of the players, I think Harrison already took that this season. He took all my plays. He took all my crunch-time plays, which I’m still a little sensitive about, but I’m really happy for Harrison,” Nowitzki joked while praising Barnes during an appearance at Mavs Basketball Academy’s hoop camp on Tuesday. “He’s a great guy. He’s a young guy who has got his stuff together like no other, and he works incredibly hard. I mean, he and Dwight (Powell) are in the gym every morning. They’re there at 6 or 7 o’clock like maniacs, and Wesley (Matthews) is in the gym. It’s just fun to watch these guys work hard and try to get better. And like I said, Harrison had an incredible year really taking this team over and coming through for us in clutch situations. So, I’m happy for him.”
Marvin Williams was the only Charlotte Hornet to win an award Friday night, and it is the second year in a row that he has won Teammate of the Year. Since arriving in Charlotte in 2014, Williams has been an impactful player on and off the court and those around him haven’t been shy in saying so. In fact, he was named a finalist for the 2016 Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award, which is an award handed out by the NBA itself.
Last year, former Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin made a reddit post dedicated to his teammates and had this to say about Harrison:
“We call him Marv. He will be tied with Jared Jeffries for the best teammate I have ever had. He’s the most genuinely nice and polite person ever, seriously. He says “sir” a lot when talking to us, he always asks us about our families and takes care of everyone. He gives his per diem (which adds up to a lot of money) to Twin just out of generosity. In my opinion, Marv is the voice of our team and our glue guy. He also anchors our D.”
It is an amazing thing to see former UNC players have such an impact with their professional teams both on and off the court. It has been an honor to watch these three players during their careers, and we all hope to see more great things from them in the near future. Yes, that does include Vince Carter, because let’s face it: he is looking retirement right in the face and laughing hysterically as we speak.