Isaac Okoro shows off epic new award created by Cavs to honor team’s gritty mentality

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers eked out a 92-86 win over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.

The team needed a solid and gritty defensive effort from its players to snap a three-game losing streak. Second-year wing Isaac Okoro was among those who stepped up on that end of the floor.

For his effort, the coaching staff bestowed him the Junkyard Dog Award. According to Chris Fedor, the recognition is a recently launched post-victory tradition by Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

“It’s a symbol of what we value,” Bickerstaff told following the 92-86 victory. “It’s something that was created by our guys, so we tried to come up with something that would celebrate that and add to our culture. We wanted to celebrate their mentality.”

Okoro’s numbers did not stand out on Saturday. He recorded just six points, four rebounds and three assists. But the tenacity he displayed in the victory did not go unnoticed. There was even a particular play late in the fourth quarter where he poked the ball away from Kyle Kuzma to disrupt the Wizards’ offense.

The 21-year-old helped limit Kuzma in the fourth quarter after the Wizards forward recorded 28 points before the final frame. Kuzma finished with 34 points.

Okoro proudly showed off his new hardware on Instagram after the contest.


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A post shared by Isaac Okoro (@isaacokoro)

Bickerstaff reportedly began the process of making the custom-made gold chain months ago. All of its details apparently hold significant meanings.

“Bickerstaff started the chain-making process months ago,” Fedor wrote. “The finished product was disclosed Saturday night — a gigantic Cavs ‘C’ logo. It’s gold with numerous jewels and special engravings. The five core values — details, toughness, together, compete, 1 More — are featured. ‘JYD’ is on the back. There’s a sprinkling of other intricate details — a combination of meaningful team markings and other connections to traditions.

“The award doesn’t necessarily go to the player with the most points, assists or rebounds. It’s reserved for the grittiest, most impactful. In Bickerstaff’s own words, the guy who brings the most scrap.”

The upstart Cavs have been one of the most pleasant surprises in the league this season. They are currently 36-24, which puts them toward the top of the Eastern Conference. Cleveland is on pace to reach its first playoffs since LeBron James left several seasons ago.

The team is slated to face the Minnesota Timberwolves at home on Monday.

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Orel is a freelance writer who is passionate about the NBA. He has followed the league since the late '90s and found increased interest in it in 2003 – when an 18-year-old prodigy from Akron, Ohio took the league by storm.