Lakers Video: Kareem Adbul-Jabbar Presents First Social Justice Champion Award To Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony, Lakers
Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA has increased its effort in the past couple of years to contribute to social justice efforts. The players around the league have been amongst the most vocal in the world of sports about the injustices plaguing the country and the NBA has stepped up in order to make a difference and follow the players’ lead.

There have been several instances in recent years of players directing the conversation and raising awareness of issues with the most recent examples being the unjust death of George Floyd and James Blake. Blake’s death, in particular, rocked the NBA’s restart in Orlando as the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 of their first round series against the Orlando Magic, setting off a chain of events that resulted in social justice action items agreed upon by the league and the players.

While this was a momentous occasion in NBA history, there have been players throughout the years that have not been afraid to speak up and use their platforms to fight against racial injustices. Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a prominent figure and one of the leaders of this movement during his playing days and the NBA decided to name its new Social Justice Champion Award after him earlier this year.

The league recently announced Carmelo Anthony as the inaugural winner of the award and Abdul-Jabbar presented the Portland Trail Blazer forward with the honor, via the NBA’s official Twitter:

Anthony was one of five finalists for the honors, joining Harrison Barnes, Tobias Harris, Jrue Holiday and Juan Toscano-Anderson. Anthony is a long-time philanthropist who has been involved in several endeavors, with one of the biggest ones being the Social Change Fund that he established with Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade. The star trio invested their own money into the Social Change Fund which is focused on supporting organizations in their quest for social change.

Wesley Matthews preaches idea of community

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced the NBA into a four-month hiatus, but that did not stop players like Wesley Matthews from using their voice and speaking up against social and racial injustice. In his Lakers exit interview, Matthews preached the idea about community amidst a difficult past two years and his words were instrumental in the league enacting several initiatives to support social change.

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