Carmelo Anthony Wins Inaugural Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award

Although his 2020-21 season came to an abrupt end following Portland’s first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony still collected hardware for his work off the court.

Tuesday night, the NBA announced that Anthony was the winner of the inaugural Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award. The 10-time All-Star was specifically recognized for his entrepreneurial and philanthropic work in the Black community, embodying Abdul-Jabbar’s mission to engage, empower and drive equality for individuals and groups. And after being named the first-ever recipient of the award, Anthony couldn’t contain his excitement while speaking with the NBA’s all-time leading scorer himself.

“Kareem, I was happy,” Anthony told Abdul-Jabbar as he accepted the award from its namesake during the NBA on TNT’s broadcast.

“You already know how I feel about this award,” Anthony added. “I’ve received a lot of awards throughout my life, throughout my career, but this award right here means a lot more than any other award that I’ve received. And I say that because of the times that we’re in, what we’re dealing with in our country, what we’re dealing with in the world and around the world. But also in our community — in the Black community. So, for me to receive that award, with all the great finalists that were involved in this and all the great people that could have been on this list … to honor me in that, I’m humbled.”

As winner of the award, Anthony has selected the Portland Art Museum’s Black Arts and Experiences Initiative to receive a $100,000 contribution on his behalf. The other four finalists for the award were Sacramento forward Harrison Barnes, Philadelphia forward Tobias Harris, Milwaukee point guard Jrue Holiday and Golden State forward Juan Toscano-Anderson, who will all select an organization to receive a $25,000 contribution as well. Anthony was selected by a committee composed of Abdul-Jabbar, Director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport Dr. Richard Lapchick, student activist Teyonna Lofton, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial, UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía, Rise Founder and CEO Amanda Nguyen, and NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum.

Anthony later took to Twitter, posting: “Humbled, honored, and motivated to live up to the namesake of this inaugural award. I can promise that I’ll continue to carry the torch and shine a light in the places that need it most. #STAYME7O

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