NBA Reveals Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Award as New Annual Recognition

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 13, 2021

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at the NBA Awards on Monday, June 24, 2019, at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

The NBA announced the creation of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award Thursday.

The league said the award will be given annually to a current NBA player for "pursuing social justice and upholding the league's decades-long values of equality, respect and inclusion."

The NBA will donate $100,000 to an organization of the winner's choice and $25,000 each to organizations chosen by the other four finalists.

Abdul-Jabbar, one of the greatest players in NBA history, said in a statement: "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."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also commented on the award:

"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."

Similar to the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, each of the NBA's 30 teams will nominate a player for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award. A committee of NBA legends, league executives and social justice leaders will then determine the finalists and winner.

The NFL Man of the Year Award has been given out since 1970 and was renamed in honor of legendary Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton in 1999. The award is given annually to the player who combines charity work with a high level of performance on the field.

The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award will focus on players who address social justice issues, something Abdul-Jabbar has done throughout his life.

Like Payton, Abdul-Jabbar is an icon because of his athletic accomplishments as well, having won six NBA MVP awards and six NBA championships, in addition to being named an All-Star 19 times.

Abdul-Jabbar is also the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points over 1,560 games with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.