The first sixth man of the year award went to the 76ers' Bobby Jones in 1983, (the last time Philly won a title). Since then 30 men have won the award, many of whom have pieced together Hall of Fame careers.
In some cases, like Bill Walton's win in 1986, it's the rebirth of a career. In others, like 2012's James Harden, it launches one. And for Jamal Crawford, who won his third award Tuesday, it can make a career. Here is our all-time starting five of sixth men of the year.
PG Jamal Crawford, Clippers and Hawks
Crawford has won the award thrice on two different teams and has been a consistent and reliable second or third option on every team he's played for. He could be the very definition of a role player and consistency, averaging 14.2 points per game this season in Los Angeles, 18.6 in L.A. when it won it in 2014 and 18 in Atlanta back in 2010.
SG Ricky Pierce, Bucks
Pierce is not a well-known guard by any means, but he had a long, 16-year career and averaged more than 14 points in that span. In 1990 he broke out for 23 points per game, the most of any sixth man of the year winner. His Bucks lost to the Michael Jordan Bulls in four games in the first round that year.
SF Tony Kukoc, Bulls
He was the sixth best player on the second best team in the history of the NBA (narrowly surpassed by the 73-9 Warriors last week). Though he only averaged 13.1 points per game he was a lethal 3-point shooter and a physical difference maker on Jordan's fourth NBA-title squad.
PF Kevin McHale, Celtics
The power forward on our list is a Basketball Hall of Famer and lifer who helped lead the C's to several titles as both a role player and starter. McHale averaged an impressive 18.4 and 19.8 points per game as he won the awards in 1984 and 1985 respectively, nearly posting a double-double per game off the bench.
C Bill Walton, Celtics
Walton's choice here is not for his single-season numbers in 1986. Instead it's for the feel-good story he gave us. After bursting on the scene as a Trailblazer in the 70s following an illustrious UCLA career, Walton's legs failed him and his NBA stint looked to be a blip on the radar. But a return to the Celtics as their first man off the bench during the 1986 season gave him a second NBA title. The 80 games he played in that season were the most of his entire career.