NBA Creates Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Award

The NBA's all-time leader in points scored, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has led an incredible life not only on the basketball court, but off it as well. The NBA announced the creation of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Award on Thursday morning, which will recognize a current NBA player for pursuing social justice efforts.

That the NBA has created an award to honor one of its greatest citizens says a lot about the league and its impact on culture and community. The NBA is clearly the leading major sports league when it comes to combatting social injustices in America, and there are a number of players that continue to do great work in the community to honor Abdul-Jabbar's legacy as an activist. Having this award will only further enhance the spotlight on social and racial issues in America, which is sorely needed given the fact that other leagues (ahem... NFL) and their ownership groups turn a blind eye - look no further than the Colin Kaepernick debacle for proof. 

Abdul-Jabbar was interviewed about his new award, and had the following to say:
I’m thrilled, I’m very honored that the NBA would name the Social Justice Award after me. I hope it serves as an inspiration to the guys in the league now to see what they can do. I think when they start competing with each other to do good things in their communities, we’ll get a lot of positive results from that.
Abdul-Jabbar has been a major figurehead when it comes to black athletes standing up for social justice since he came to prominence in the 1960's playing for John Wooden's UCLA Bruins. He famously stood with Muhammed Ali, Jim Brown and others to support Ali in his quarrel with the US Government. He boycotted the 1968 Olympics, choosing not to tryout for the US Men's National Basketball Team in protest of unequal treatment for African-Americans in the USA. In 2012, Abdul-Jabbar was named Cultural Ambassador, following in the footsteps of one of his heroes, Louis Armstrong. He was grateful for the opportunity, saying:
I really appreciate the opportunity, since I think it’s something – I remember when Louis Armstrong first did it back for President Kennedy, one of my heroes. So it’s nice to be following in his footsteps.

Abdul-Jabbar is also an accomplished author, publishing a number of different works that cover a variety of topics including his social work, conversation to Islam, race relations in the USA, jazz, and even work on Sherlock Holmes. 

In his long and distinguished basketball career, Abdul-Jabbar led UCLA to three straight NCAA titles, and was a three-time National College Player of the Year and three-time Final Four MOP. Upon entering the NBA he was dominant, leading the Milwaukee Bucks to their only NBA Championship before orchestrating a trade to the Los Angeles and winning another five titles with the Showtime Lakers. He is still the NBA's all-time leader in scoring, field goal made and attempted, minutes played, and is 3rd all-time in blocks (although if the stat was counted in his first four seasons he would arguably lead that category). He was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996 and is revered for his use of the legendary Sky Hook - which was nearly unstoppable and has never been replicated in the NBA. 

Kudos the the NBA, and congratulations to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

Photo Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports