Carmelo Anthony Among Finalists for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJune 11, 2021

Portland Trail Blazers' Carmelo Anthony plays against the Boston Celtics during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

The NBA announced five finalists Friday for the inaugural Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award.

According to Martenzie Johnson of ESPN's The Undefeated, the finalists are Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony, Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes, Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris and Golden State Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson.

The award, which is essentially the NBA's version of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award but with a focus on tackling social issues, will be given to a player deemed to be "pursuing social justice and upholding the league's decades-long values of equality, respect and inclusion."

Each of the NBA's 30 teams submitted a finalist for the award before the field was cut to five.

The winner of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award will have $100,000 donated to a social justice organization of their choice by the NBA, while the four finalists who don't win will each have $25,000 donated to organizations of their choice.

The five finalists were selected by a panel, which included Abdul-Jabbar himself. The award is named after Abdul-Jabbar because of his long track record of supporting social justice and equality for Black people and athletes.

Anthony has long been at the forefront of social justice discussions in the NBA, along with the likes of LeBron James, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade.

It was with Paul and Wade that Melo helped form the Social Change Fund last July in an effort to combat social and economic issues in Black communities.

Holiday is the co-founder of the Jrue and Lauren Holiday Social Impact Fund. Barnes worked with Be.Woke.Vote to fight against disenfranchisement and donated to organizations that are combating police brutality and racial inequality. Harris created the Tobias Harris Charitable Fund and Tobias' Top Teachers program. Toscano-Anderson created the Journey to Achieve Foundation to help minorities in Mexico, the Bay Area and Santa Cruz, California.

The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award was officially created last month, and the first winner of the award will be announced later this month prior to Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.


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