Melo Wins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award

The Portland Trail Blazers forward, Carmelo anthony, is the inaugural winner of the award Kareem Abdul-Jabbar The NBA’s Social Justice Champion was announced Tuesday.

The NBA said Anthony, a 10-time NBA All-Star, businessman and philanthropist, was selected “for his dedication over the past year to the pursuit of social justice and to the advancement of Abdul-Jabbar’s life mission. engage, empower and advance equality for individuals and groups who have historically been marginalized or systemically disadvantaged. “

“It’s a great honor,” Anthony told ESPN’s The Undefeated by email. “I am fortunate to be part of a League full of players who are equally passionate about making a difference. Therefore, I am truly honored to be recognized by Kareem and the selection committee. I hope this award encourages others to help. to uplift those who have been historically marginalized or systematically disadvantaged, and do their part to achieve equality and justice for all. “

The other four finalists for the award were the Sacramento Kings forward, Harrison Barnes, the Philadelphia 76ers forward, Tobias Harris, the Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard, Jrue Holiday, and the forward of the Golden State Warriors, Juan Toscano-Anderson.

The NBA announced the creation of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award on May 13. The new annual honor was created to recognize a player for “pursuing social justice and upholding the league’s values ​​of equality, respect and inclusion for decades.”

Abdul-Jabbar is a six-time NBA champion, the league’s all-time leading scorer, and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The former Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks star is also known for driving social change in his local community and inspiring reflection on injustice.

As the winner, Anthony was able to select an organization, the Portland Art Museum’s Black Arts and Experiences Initiative, to receive a contribution of $ 100,000 on his behalf. Barnes, Harris, Holiday and Toscano-Anderson will also receive $ 25,000 to donate to a charity of their choice.

In the near future, Anthony and Abdul-Jabbar are expected to develop and design the trophy drawing inspiration from their two visions with a team of emerging designers from diverse backgrounds from the Marcus Graham Project, a national organization that received the inaugural grant from the NBA Foundation. focused on developing the next generation of diverse leaders in the advertising, media and marketing industry through training, mentoring and professional development opportunities.

Kareem is a complete legend, “said Anthony, a selection of six NBA teams.” His contributions on the court are of the next level, and off the court, he has dedicated his life to fighting for equality and made it his own. mission to promote positive change in our society. He leads by example and inspires me and many others to do the same in our own lives. It was an honor and a blessing to even be considered a finalist for this Kareem award. “

In July 2020, Anthony teamed up with the Phoenix Suns guard Chris paul and former NBA star Dwyane Wade to create the Fund for Social Change, which addresses social and economic justice issues facing black communities and breaks down discriminatory barriers to success.

Proceeds from the Social Change Fund were donated to support organizations working on critical issues impacting African American communities.

Anthony has focused on critical issues including promoting criminal justice reform and inclusion, advocating for the human rights of all black lives, expanding access to voting and civic participation, increasing black representation. in government and building economic equity in communities of color through investment in education, employment, wages, and housing.

Anthony also served as guest editor-in-chief for SLAM magazine’s special Social Justice issue that featured former NBA legend Abdul-Jabbar. Bill russell and former WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes.

Anthony also partnered with activist Opal Lee, 94, in March to raise awareness of the 19th and advocate for the day to become a national holiday. The former Syracuse star is featured in a criminal justice reform campaign for the Vera Institute of Justice and runs a cross-platform content company Creative 7 Productions.

Anthony, 37, was instrumental in launching the Trail Blazers’ Racial Injustice Initiative, which provided more than $ 200,000 in funding to organizations fighting systemic racism.

“Giving back and working to improve communities like the ones I grew up in has always been central to me, and everything I have worked to achieve off the court has been the culmination of a lifetime of witnessing injustice and inequality,” Anthony said. “While the past year has focused attention on the inequalities faced by many globally, these are not new problems. Progress is being made, but change does not happen overnight. It is up to each and every one of us to do our part to help. create a future for the next generation in which everyone is accepted for who they are, regardless of skin tone, gender, sexuality, religion, or income level. Let’s work to celebrate all the things that we, as human beings, we have in common, instead of dwelling on the differences that have divided us for too long. “

The chairman of the board of the National Basketball Coalition for Social Justice has also worked on social reform through the Carmelo Anthony Foundation. Additionally, Anthony’s upcoming memoir, “Where Tomorrow’s Not Promised,” delves into his education while highlighting social, health, and economic inequalities in communities of color.

Anthony’s selection for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award was determined by a selection committee comprised of Abdul-Jabbar, Director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport Dr. Richard Lapchick, student activist Teyonna Lofton, President and CEO of the National Urban League Marc Morial, Janet Murguía, president and CEO of UnidosUS, Amanda Nguyen, founder and CEO of Rise, and Mark Tatum, deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the NBA.

“Carmelo Anthony stands on the shoulders of the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in demonstrating that social justice and racial equality are crucial to the NBA in the 21st century,” Murial said in a statement. “With his active and courageous commitment to social justice and racial equality, he stands as a role model for the generation of players who are motivated to speak out and act clearly at this transformative moment in American history. “.