Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger calls guard Mike Conley the kind of man a father would want to marry his daughter. Conley’s peers certainly think highly enough to award him the NBA’s Joe Dumars Trophy for sportsmanship.
Conley received 77 first-place votes of a possible 334 and earned 2,335 points overall for the award announced Thursday. He was followed by Boston’s Jeff Green, Phoenix’s Channing Frye, Washington’s Bradley Beal, Portland’s Damian Lillard and Chicago’s Mike Dunleavy.
"I’m honored and obviously it’s a great achievement," Conley said after shootaround before Game 3 against Oklahoma City. "It says a lot about what you do for the team, the community and how the players respect you around the league."
The NBA is donating $10,000 on Conley’s behalf to the charity of his choice, the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for research pertaining to sickle cell anemia.
Joerger called Conley a great competitor. The 6-foot-1 guard averaged a career-high 17.2 points in 73 starts during the regular season, and he is averaging a career-best 17.5 points and 11.5 assists with six rebounds in two games this postseason.
"Sometimes guys that you think they’re just too nice, he’s not too nice," Joerger said. "He’s a hard, competitive guy, but he does it in a very classy and professional way."
The seven-year veteran is the son of Mike Conley, an Olympic gold medalist in the triple jump in 1992 and a member of the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame. Conley, 26, said he was taught to be a good sportsman from the time he played Little League and AAU to now.
"I’m just professional and care about the team, care about the city, care about the league," Conley said.
The NBA has given out this award since 1995-96 to a player who reflects the ideals of sportsmanship, including ethical behavior, fair play and integrity. This is the 10th consecutive year NBA players have voted on the award.