Originally written on In The Neutral Zone  |  Last updated 11/9/14
For someone who wanted to start, he has made coming off the bench his calling card and now he was rewarded for his hard work. JR Smith won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award Monday after turning a role he didn’t want into one of the strengths of the New York Knicks’ first division championship team in nearly two decades. Smith averaged 18.1 points in 80 games, all off the bench. He had 29 games in which he scored 20 points as a reserve, tying Crawford for the NBA lead. The 6-foot-6 swingman wanted to start, but said he accepted it fairly quickly once coach Mike Woodson told him he would be a reserve. ”I just wanted to show everybody that I could be a team guy and it’s all about the team,” Smith said at a news conference attended by his family, teammates and coaches. It’s the second individual award in two years for the Knicks, following Tyson Chandler’s Defensive Player of the Year honor last season. Smith joins former Knicks sixth-man winners Anthony Mason in 1995 and John Starks in 1997. ”Couldn’t have happened to a better guy,” Woodson said. ”I’m so proud of him, in terms of buying into what we wanted him to do earlier in the season. And it started this summer. I wasn’t going to start him, coming into this year, and I knew that. And he bought in. He didn’t like it, but he bought in. And it couldn’t have happened to a better person, because he put in the time and he worked his butt off to get to this point, and he got rewarded for it. I’m happy for him.” ”I more credit it to winning,” Smith said. ”We’ve had guys hurt, it just so happened I was one of the guys that stepped up and tried to get us through the tough times that we had.” Teammate Kenyon Martin said the 27-year-olf Smith has ”grown up a lot.” ”I played with him a lot of years in Denver, he was still a kid then. He’s become a grown man,” Martin said. ”I think he’s got better people around him, which is huge, and he’s learning. He’s learning on the fly, that’s all you can do is keep learning each and every year you’re in the league.”
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

K.J. Wright: Targeting injured players 'unacceptable'

Five reasons the Patriots will win the Super Bowl

Five reasons the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl

Bill Simmons fires a shot at ESPN colleague Ray Lewis

Which teams are most squarely on the bubble?

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tiger Woods: 'There was blood everywhere' after tooth incident

Jerry Rice: Asterisk needed if Patriots win Super Bowl

Pete Carroll ok with Robert Kraft despite Patriots firing

Winners and losers of the Senior Bowl

Report: NFL approved under-inflated balls from Patriots

New MLB commissioner: Return to Montreal is possible

Ranking all 48 Super Bowls

'Goodell Must Go' mobile banners heading to Phoenix

NFL pushing College Football Playoff to change its schedule

Can the Yankees avoid paying A-Rod's milestone bonuses?

Tom Brady once got locked in a high school locker

Fire alarm at Patriots' hotel goes off early Tuesday morning

Petition to remove Pats from Super Bowl has 40K+ signatures

Richard Sherman is not pleased with Roger Goodell

Buffalo Bills: The greatest champion that never was

Six best Super Bowl coaches of all-time

Five key matchups for Super Bowl XLIX

Early B1G predictions for 2015

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking all 48 Super Bowls

Bill Simmons fires a shot at Ray Lewis

NFL pushing CFP to change schedule

Can Yanks not pay A-Rod his bonuses?

Petition started to remove Pats from SB

On John Wall's adidas J Wall 1 NYC All-Star Edition

NFL approved Pats' under-inflated balls?

Six best Super Bowl coaches of all-time

Five key matchups for Super Bowl XLIX

Early Big Ten predictions for 2015

Remembering Ernie Banks

Pats employee took footballs into restroom?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.