The NBA is creating an annual award, acknowledging current player's efforts advocating for social justice and racial equality. The award will be named after the NBA's all-time leading scorer and a noted civil rights activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
I’m honored and grateful to be associated with this award that will recognize the dedicated and selfless people fighting to promote social justice for all marginalized people. To me, it’s another giant step in the right direction for the country and all people who value equality.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA
Each of every 30 NBA teams will nominate one player for the award. Five finalists will be selected by a seven-person committee that will include league executives, NBA legends, and activists. The winner will receive $100,000 to donate to the organization of his choosing. Each of the other four finalists will receive $25,000 to give out.
The recipient of the "Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion" award will be announced during the playoffs, starting this season, as the league continues to encourage its players to speak out just like the Hall of Fame big man did during his NBA career.
In addition to being one of our greatest players, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has devoted much of his life to advocating for equality and social justice. With this new award, we are proud to recognize and celebrate NBA players who are using their influence to make an impact on their communities and our broader society.
Adam Silver, NBA
Even after he retired from the NBA, Kareem continued being one of the leading voices for social justice and equality. In '16, former President Barack Obama awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In '09, Jabbar created the Skyhook Foundation to provide underserved communities with educational STEM opportunities. He even auctioned his championship rings to raise money for his foundation.
That's the standard of proactivity players have to meet in order to win the award. And many of them have already done it, especially over the last two years, when social issues intertwined with the NBA, perhaps more than ever.