No ego for league's best bench player, says Crawford

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Checking your ego at the door is a prerequisite to being named the National Basketball Association's best player in a reserve role, winner Jamal Crawford said on Tuesday.

The Atlanta Hawks guard clinched the NBA's Sixth Man Award following a season in which he was second in team scoring and recorded the most points by a reserve player in 20 years.

Crawford, the first Atlanta player to win the award, said sitting on the bench in the early stages of games gave him a chance to gather a sense of the flow and decide how to best make an impact when called into the game.

"The main thing is you have to check your ego at the door," Crawford told reporters.

"If you are really about winning, that's the common goal and that's the picture is just winning, then you do what you've got to do."

Crawford, who came off the bench in all 79 games he appeared in this season for the Hawks, finished with an average of 18 points a game.

Ricky Pierce, who averaged 23 points a game in the 1989-90 season with Milwaukee, is the only player in the last 40 years to post a higher scoring average without starting a game.

Crawford, a first round pick by Cleveland in 2000, ranked seventh in the league in three-point field goals and was 18th in free throw percentage.

"You can have just as big an effect coming off the bench," said Crawford. "It's not about who starts but it's about who finishes the game."

Finishing behind Crawford, who received 110 of a possible 122 first-place votes from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters, was Jason Terry of Dallas and third placed Anderson Varejao of Cleveland.

(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Frank Pingue/Ian Ransom)