Carmelo Anthony has been named the inaugural winner of the NBA’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award.
The league announced on Tuesday (June 29) that the Portland Trailblazers forward and 10-time All-Star was selected “for his dedication over the past year to pursuing social justice and advancing Abdul-Jabbar’s life mission to engage, empower and drive equality for individuals and groups who have been historically marginalized or systemically disadvantaged,” according to ESPN.
“It’s such an honor,” Anthony told the network via email. “I’m lucky to be part of a league full of players who are equally as passionate about making a difference. So, I’m truly humbled to be recognized by Kareem and the selection committee. It’s my hope that this award encourages others to help uplift those who have been historically marginalized or systematically disadvantaged, and do their part in making equality and justice for all.”
The four other finalists for the award were Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes, Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris, Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday and Golden State Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson.
The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award was created to honor and recognize a player for “pursuing social justice and upholding the league’s decades-long values of equality, respect and inclusion.”
In July 2020, Anthony partnered with Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul and former NBA star Dwyane Wade to create the Social Change Fund, which addresses social and economic justice issues facing Black communities and breaks down the discriminatory barriers to success. Proceeds from it were donated to support organizations working on critical issues impacting Black communities.
As the winner of the award, Anthony will be able to donate $100,000 on his behalf to the Portland Art Museum’s Black Arts and Experiences Initiative. As runner-ups, Barnes, Harris, Holiday and Toscano-Anderson will donate $25,000 to a charity of their choice.