Juan Toscano-Anderson has shown time and time again through his brief professional career so far that he is as diverse as they come. One day, the Golden State Warriors role player can be trash-talking LeBron James and the next day, he is being chosen as a finalist for a brand-new, yet prestigious NBA award.
The five finalists for the inaugural honor were announced on Friday and also include Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony, Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris, and former Warriors player Harrison Barnes, who currently suits up for the Sacramento Kings. The winner of the award is scheduled to be announced before Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals, according to the NBA Communications department’s official release.
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The 28-year-old Toscano-Anderson played college basketball for the Marquette Golden Eagles, and after more than three years of playing abroad, played in the G-League for two seasons. He made his NBA debut last February and signed a two-way contract in December, before being rewarded with a standard NBA contract last month.
Toscano-Anderson Says Selection as Finalist Is ‘Humbling’
According to the release, the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion 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.” Among the notable actions from “JTA” has been establishing the Journey to Achieve (JTA) Foundation to give back to youth and families of color in the Bay Area, Santa Cruz and Mexico.
The Oakland native also took part in the Dubs’ VOTERS Win Campaign. The campaign acted as a PSA to “encourage Black and Latino citizens to vote in the 2020 election and fill out the census.” Toscano-Anderson has also talked with over 3,000 African youth about his journey to the NBA, and has supported Digital Nest, which is a local nonprofit focused on “empowering Latinx professionals” among many other efforts.
When he learned of his selection as a finalist for the award, Toscano-Anderson took to Twitter to express his thanks.
The winner of the award will receive a $100,000 donation towards an organization of their choice, that is focused on advancing social justice. The other four finalists will each receive a $25,000 contribution.
Toscano-Anderson has chosen Homies Empowerment as the recipient of his donation.
Warriors 2015 NBA Finals Starter Also a Finalist
Often overshadowed by the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes was one of the other key fixtures in the Warriors starting five during their 2014-2015 championship season. The former University of North Carolina Tar Heel was drafted seventh overall by Golden State in 2012 and spent the first four seasons of his career in the Bay Area.
Now on the Kings, Barnes – like Toscano-Anderson – was very involved in advocating for voter rights leading up to the 2020 election. He has also been very active with a host of organizations supporting racial justice including the Trayvon Martin Foundation, The Atatiana Project, Mothers Against Police Brutality, and the Tamir Rice Foundation, among others.
Prior to each Kings game during the NBA restart, Barnes dedicated the contest to a different organization and contributed $25,000 to those created by the families of victims of police brutality and gun violence. Last October, he was named to the NBA Foundation’s inaugural Board of Directors, which helps to “guide its effort to further economic empowerment in the Black Community.”
Barnes has chosen Center for Policing Equity as the recipient of his donation.