A new NBA award created to recognize the social justice efforts of players will be named for all-time scoring leader and long-time civil rights activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the league announced Thursday.
The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award will recognize efforts by a current player to uphold values of racial equality, diversity and inclusion.
Abdul-Jabbar, a Hall of Fame center who joined the NBA in 1969, was a six-time NBA Most Valuable Player and 19-time All-Star who scored an NBA record 38,387 career points over 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks.
“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,” Abdul-Jabbar said.
“To me, it’s another giant step in the right direction for the country and all people who value equality.”
The award winner will select an organization to receive a $100,000 contribution on his behalf and four other finalists will select groups to receive $25,000 each.
All 30 NBA teams will nominate one player for the award, with a selection committee of NBA legends, league executives and social justice leaders deciding the winner.
“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.
“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.”
Abdul-Jabbar, 74, was inspired at age 17 by meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in New York and began using his status as a star athlete to champion social issues during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
In 2016, former US President Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.