CLEVELAND — Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland is a vocal leader on his team, showcasing what it means to be a good teammate and hardworking player. Now, the league is recognizing his efforts this season, naming him a finalist for the 2021-22 NBA Sportsmanship Award.
Garland was nominated by the Cavs to represent their team, and after a panel of league executives overviewed all of the nominations, they selected one finalist from each of the league's six divisions, with Garland representing the Central Division.
The other five finalists named alongside Garland are Heat's Bam Adebayo, Suns' Mikal Bridges, Nuggets' Jeff Green, Grizzlies' Jaren Jackson Jr. and Nets' Patty Mills.
Current NBA players will now select the winner of the 2021-22 NBA Sportsmanship Award from the list of six finalists, submitting votes through confidential balloting conducted by the league office.
The NBA Sportsmanship Award is named after Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Joe Dumars, the first recipient of the award created in the 1995-96 season.
Garland is not the only Cavs player up for a league award, with veteran forward/center Kevin Love named a finalist for the 2021-22 Twyman Stokes Teammate of the Year Award.
Love is up for the annual award, given to the player deemed the "best teammate based on selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to team."
In a new role with the Cavs as a sixth man, Love has thrived as both an important piece to the Cavs off the bench and a much-needed veteran presence for a young roster. A true shift from the end of last season, Love has been an integral part of the team that has gone from having a 22-50 record in 2020, to recently clinching their first winning season without LeBron James on the roster since 1998, notching 42 wins with several more games left on the schedule.
Love joins Bulls' DeMar DeRozan, Jazz's Rudy Gay, Nuggets' Jeff Green, Heat's Udonis Haslem, Bucks' Jrue Holiday, Warriors' Andre Iguodala, Grizzlies' Jaren Jackson Jr., Mavericks' Boban Marjanovic, Suns' Chris Paul, Raptors' Fred VanVleet and Celtics' Grant Williams.
Six finalists from each conference were selected by a panel of league executives and the winner of the award will be voted on by current NBA players.
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