- The Washington Times
Thursday, May 13, 2021

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.”

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