Tyler Herro is the first white American-born NBA player to win an award in a decade

All the usual suspects that come to mind are from foreign lands

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Tyler Herro (r.), the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year
Tyler Herro (r.), the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year
Photo: Getty Images

Tyler Herro is a cold white boy.

The Wisconsin native and University of Kentucky product won this season’s NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in runaway fashion, as he became the first member of the Miami Heat to receive the honor after collecting more than 274 total voting points than Cleveland’s Kevin Love (second place) and 360 more than Phoenix’s Cam Johnson (third place).

But, did you know that Herro is the first American-born white player to win something in a decade?


You have to go back to 2012 before you’ll find an American-born white player that’s won any award in the NBA, as Houston’s Ryan Anderson won Most Improved Player that year. The stat is a polarizing one, especially for a league that’s so diverse. In 2021, the NBA featured at least 109 International players from at least 39 countries. The reigning MVP is even a white player, it’s just that he’s from Serbia: not South Boston.


The numbers are even more interesting when you look at each category and see how things have changed over the years. For instance, an American-born white player hasn’t won MVP since 1986, captured Rookie of the Year since 2001, or been named Defensive Player of the Year since 95.

Here’s a breakdown of how American-born white players have fared over the years:


  • Larry Bird: 1984, 1985, 1986
  • Bill Walton: 1978
  • Dave Cowens: 1973
  • Bob Pettit: 1956, 1959
  • Bob Cousy: 1957

Rookie of the Year

  • Mike Miller: 2001
  • Larry Bird: 1980
  • Alvan Adams: 1976
  • Ernie DiGregorio: 1974
  • Geoff Petrie & Dave Cowens: 1971
  • Rick Barry: 1966
  • Jerry Lucas: 1964
  • Terry Dischinger: 1963
  • Tom Heinsohn: 1957
  • Bob Pettit: 1955
  • Don Meineke: 1953

Defensive Player of the Year 

  • Mark Eaton 1989, 1995

Sixth Man of the Year

  • Mike Miller: 2006
  • Bill Walton: 1986
  • Kevin McHale: 1984, 1985
  • Bobby Jones: 1983

Most Improved Player

  • Ryan Anderson: 2012
  • Kevin Love: 2011
  • Don MacLean: 1994
  • Scott Skiles: 1991
  • Rony Seikaly: 1990