New NBA award named after Abdul-Jabbar

Fred Jeter | 5/20/2021, 6 p.m.
The NBA’s newest award is named after the league’s all-time scorer — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The NBA’s newest award is named after the league’s all-time scorer — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

But the honor is based as much on what the 7-foot-2 athlete did off the court as on it.

The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Award will go to the player “who pursues social justice and upholds the league’s values of equality, respect and inclusion.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The inaugural winner will be announced later this year.

Abdul-Jabbar, now 74, was an outspoken activist throughout his college and pro playing careers and has remained so in retirement.

Each of the 30 NBA teams will nominate a player for the award. The winner will receive $100,000 to contribute to a worthy cause of his choice.

The four finalists will receive $25,000 each.

From the Manhattan borough of New York, Abdul-Jabbar led UCLA to three straight NCAA titles from 1967 to 1969. Playing with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lak- ers from 1969 to 1989, he scored a record 38,387 points while leading his teams to six NBA titles. He was a six-time league

MVP and 19-time All-Star. His patented go-to shot was the “skyhook,” which was considered unblockable. For years, he has been involved with the Skyhook Foundation, an academic program he founded for the underprivileged designed “to give kids a shot (in life) that can’t be blocked.”

His birth name was Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. He converted from Catholicism to Islam while at UCLA, but did not publicly change his name until 1971 when he was with Milwaukee Bucks.

This is at least the second award to carry his name. The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award goes to the NCAA’s top big man each season. The University of Iowa’s Luka Garza has won it the past two years.