The NBA announced the creation of a new season award and the league is naming it after an iconic Hall of Famer.
The “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion” award will acknowledge a current player who advocates for social justice and campaigns for diversity and inclusion.
The league will select a player after each season, honoring the individual who demonstrates a commitment to bringing awareness to social justice and inequalities. NBA clubs will nominate one player for the award, and finalists of the group will donate a combined $200,000 to social justice organizations.
“It’s nice to see the NBA try to promote social justice awareness, and I am very flattered they would see fit to name the award after me,” Abdul-Jabbar told The Undefeated. “I know I have some history with this, so I’m happy the way it’s worked out.”
All 30 NBA teams will nominate a player for the award, and finalists will be selected by a seven-person committee composed of league executives, activists, and former NBA players.
“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,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “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.”
Abdul-Jabbar won three consecutive NCAA championships (1967 to 1969) while at UCLA. In between them, he, alongside famed sociologist Harry Edwards, helped organize a boycott of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City due to the then-recent assassinations of civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., and the continued mistreatment of Black people in America. Afterward, he went on to win 6 NBA championships.
This is another class act by the NBA. The league is further demonstrating how it’s encouraging players to speak out and act on creating positive change with players being empowered and afforded the necessary resources to enact progress.
This award will be one that every player in the NBA will campaign for.