When LeBron James lost the Most Valuable Player award vote, Lakers fans said “sure.”
When Frank Vogel lost the Coach of the Year vote, Lakers fans said “alright.”
But when Jared Dudley lost the vote for the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award on Tuesday, the line was crossed — the NBA clearly has it out for the Lakers.
The award, which was first introduced during the 2012-13 season, is given to the player that is deemed by their peers to be the best teammate in the NBA, both on and off the floor. Dudley placed ninth, but with all due respect to the other nominees, including Jrue Holiday, who was named this year’s winner on Tuesday, Dudley deserved that award.
Last summer, Dudley signed a one-year contract with the Lakers for the veteran’s minimum after playing a crucial role for the Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs. Dudley could have commanded a bigger contract, but he didn’t for the sake of the team.
Then, Dudley went on every TV show, radio show and podcast to talk about how great the Lakers organization was, and how excited he was to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Since then, his enthusiasm hasn’t waned, even though he hasn’t played significant minutes with the team this season. That’s the true test of leadership.
Dudley might not be a star in the traditional sense, but he’s definitely been a star in his role as a mentor for the Lakers’ younger players and a glue guy for the veterans in the locker room. Holiday can celebrate his award, but similar to every other award that has been given out to non-Lakers players this season: It don’t mean a thing without the ring. Dudley can prove the haters and the doubters wrong by clapping and cheering extra hard for the rest of the NBA Finals.