NBA: League creates award to recognize social justice efforts

NBA basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabaar waves before speaking on the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

By Frank Pingue

The NBA is set to announce on Thursday a new award that will recognize a current player for pursuing social justice and upholding the league’s values of equality, respect and inclusion.

Named after one of the most accomplished players in NBA history, the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award winner will select an organization to receive a $100,000 contribution on his behalf, according to an NBA statement reviewed by Reuters.

The other four finalists will each select an organization to receive a $25,000 contribution.

“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,” six-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer Abdul-Jabbar said in the statement.
“To me, it’s another giant step in the right direction for the country and all people who value equality.”

The recipient will have helped drive change and inspired others to reflect on injustice and take collective action in their communities over the previous year, the statement said.

All 30 teams will nominate one player from their roster for the annual honor. The finalists and winner will be selected by a committee composed of NBA legends, league executives and social justice leaders.

Additional details regarding the inaugural award, including the finalists and winner, will be announced during the NBA postseason which begins May 22 and runs until July.

Abdul-Jabbar, who retired from the NBA in 1989 after a 20-season career with the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks, has spoken out regularly on issues of race and inequality.

In 2016, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor.


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