The National Basketball Association has announced the Social Justice Championship award, naming it after Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The league will select a player after each season to honor the individual who demonstrates a commitment to promoting social justice and inequalities. NBA clubs will nominate one player for the award, and group finalists will collectively donate $200,000 to social justice organizations.
The finalists are selected by a committee made up of former NBA players, league leaders and social justice leaders. The league said it would announce the first receiver during the postseason, which starts next week.
“I am honored and grateful to be associated with this award that recognizes the dedicated and selfless people who fight for social justice for all marginalized people,” Abdul-Jabbar said in a statement. “For me it is another big step in the right direction for the country and all people who value equality.”
Abdul-Jabbar, 74, a six-time NBA champion and former Los Angeles Lakers great, is a longtime advocate of social justice. For the past year, he joined CNBC to discuss inequality in the black community and advocated for increased education and funding.
“Black Americans are often the last to be hired and the first to be fired; we can change that,” Abdul-Jabbar told CNBC’s Closing Bell last June. “There are many positive ways we can relate to our fellow citizens and work on this problem and eliminate it.”
The NBA has focused more on social justice and inequality in the past year after George Floyd’s death. The league has pledged $300 million to help underserved areas and fight income inequality among black people. Last month, the competition handed out part of the subsidies to social organizations.
“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 use their influence to make an impact on their communities and our wider society.”
The NBA’s 2020-21 regular season ends this weekend, with play-in games starting next week to determine the final four teams that will make the playoffs. The league played a shortened 72-game schedule due to the pandemic.