The NBA announced that Dallas Mavericks forward Reggie Bullock is the recipient of the 2022 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award. Los Angeles Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony collected as its first recipient earlier this year.
The league picked Bullock over the other finalists, which included the Milwaukee Bucks’ Jrue Holiday, the Memphis Grizzlies’ Jaren Jackson Jr., the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns and the Toronto Raptors’ Fred VanVleet as the most impactful social justice advocates of the year.
Bullock played 19 games for the Lakers after a trade from the Detroit Pistons during the 2018-19 season.
“The annual award recognizes a current NBA player for 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,” the NBA said in a statement.
The winner was announced on TNT during the coverage of the Western Conference Finals. Bullock found out from Abdul-Jabbar himself before the Mavericks’ game against the Golden State Warriors:
— NBA (@NBA) May 23, 2022
Bullock will receive a $100,000 donation from the NBA for a social justice organization of his choosing. Additionally, each of the other four finalists will also be able to support a social justice organization they select with a $25,000 contribution on their behalf.
Abdul-Jabbar headed the committee, made of social justice leaders and members of the NBA family, that chose the pool of nominees that the finalists were selected from. The legendary Laker also presented Anthony with the inaugural award before the 129-118 loss to the Denver Nuggets on April 3.
Anthony discusses Abdul-Jabbar’s impact on his mission to fight for equality
After receiving the award, Anthony described how Abdul-Jabbar inspired him to fight against social injustice.
“I was always taught things about Kareem off the court and what he stood for before I even paid attention to him as a basketball player,” Anthony added. “Not to say I wasn’t a fan of his, but I never seen him play before. I know what he stood for and those was the messages that was kind of instilled in me in my community as far as what he stood for.
“His fight, his social injustice fight for so long even when people was saying he wasn’t speaking or he wasn’t talking. He still was powerful and for him to be able to tell those story and guide this new generation and give us advice and let us still see him and let us still praise him and give him his flowers while he’s still here. When it comes to athletes and social justice, he’s at the top.”
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