The NBA introduced a new award Thursday that will recognize a player who pursues social justice and upholds “the league’s decades-long values of equality, respect and inclusion.”
The award — the “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar social justice champion award” — will be named after the Hall of Fame center who was active off the court in promoting equality and standing up for civil rights. Abdul-Jabbar led a boycott of the 1968 Olympics and also protested the Vietnam war.
The winner of the honor will receive $100,000 to donate to a charity of his choosing. The four other finalists will receive $25,000. Each team will nominate a player for the award and the winner will be announced during the playoffs, according to ESPN. The winner is selected from a panel of league executives, activists and former players.
The NBA has increased its social justice presence over the last year, supporting the “Black Lives Matter” movement with a visible display on the court and on jerseys when the season resumed over the summer at Walt Disney World near Orlando. Teams like the Milwaukee Bucks even forced a temporary work stoppage in protest of the murder of George Floyd, causing the NBA to postpone games.
Abdul-Jabbar, the league’s all-time leading scorer, told CBS This Morning that it’s important for athletes to be outspoken.
“Without somebody the leadership, we’re not going to have any change,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “We won’t be able to realize the necessary changes if people don’t get out there and point out the issues and show some leadership.”
JUST ANNOUNCED: The @NBA is announcing a new award, the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award, named after the Hall of Famer and longtime activist.@vladduthiersCBS spoke with @kaj33 in an exclusive interview. pic.twitter.com/oYtJHOPt8T— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) May 13, 2021
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