Montrez Harrell bolted from Orlando and the NBA’s restart bubble to be with his ailing grandmother, someone he was incredibly close to and who inspired him. She passed away late last month. He eventually returned to the bubble and joined up with a Clippers team just hitting its stride, but thoughts of his grandmother are never far away for Harrell.
When Harrell was named Sixth Man of the Year on Friday, he dedicated the award to his grandmother.
“This is for my grandmother, who is not here with me today and isn’t going to be able to see this,” Harrell said in a zoom press conference. “She isn’t going to be able to see me do something that she instilled in me as a young child, a game that she brought to my attention as a young man and I fell in love with and worked my tail off at.”
He said he and his grandmother had talked about this day.
“It’s definitely something that we talked about because I was blessed to be in [the Sixth Man] conversation last year, and we seen how it unfolded…” Harrell said. “We definitely talked about it, and she told me that this year was going to be my year. It’s tough. It’s tough. I went back to my room and contemplated having my talks one-on-one with her because we’ve had these talks and she told me that I was going to win it this year, that this year was going to be my year…
“It just hurts that I’m not able to take it home to her.”
Harrell earned 58 of the 100 first-place votes from select media members, and he finished in front of Oklahoma’s Dennis Schroder, who was second. After them, there was a considerable drop off to third place, which was Harrell’s Clippers’ teammate and pick-and-roll partner Lou Williams.
“He’s a proven legend,” Harrell said while wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Lou Williams on it. “He’s won this award numerous times. And like I said, I’m just grateful to be around him and just learn and see the type of player he’s become and just learned how he was able to blossom in this role… just being around him and soaking all that knowledge up has been a tremendous honor.”
Harrell, Williams, and the rest of the Clippers take the court for Game 2 of their series against Denver Saturday night.