Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris is looking to make history next month as an NBA champion, but will first look to add an even more historic accolade to his resumé.
It was announced Friday that Harris was selected as one of five finalists for the inaugural Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award. The winner will be announced prior to Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals, according to the NBA Communications department’s official release.
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The other finalists are Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony, Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors guard/forward Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, who spent the first four seasons of his career with the Sixers.
Abdul-Jabbar Has Crafted Iconic Career on and off Court
Aside from being a six-time league MVP, six-time NBA champion, 19-time All-Star, 1995 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, and the Association’s all-time leading scorer, Abdul-Jabbar has somehow made as big of an impact off of the court. According to the release, the award in the 74-year-old’s namesake “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.”
Since his playing days ended, Abdul-Jabbar has become a regular contributor to The Washington Post, Time Magazine, and The Hollywood Reporter – among others – where he discusses “some of the most socially relevant and politically controversial topics” in the country. He has spent over half a century as not only one of the most famous athletes in the sport, but as an activist as well.
Former President Barack Obama awarded Abdul-Jabbar the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.
Harris Has Been an All-Star for Social, Racial Justice
During an especially notable juncture in modern America for social justice and racial inequity, Harris has stepped up on numerous occasions. The 28-year-old has awarded $2 million to help with educational equity through the Tobias Harris Charitable Fund.
Additionally, in 2021 alone, $300,000 has gone to The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia to “recruit teachers from HBCUs or diverse backgrounds – who are more likely to carry higher student loan balances following graduation – and provide relocations stipends to prevent barriers of quality Black teachers in the classroom.” In 2020, Harris marched in peaceful protest of police brutality and has reflected on racial injustice in the Players’ Tribune.
The winner of the award will receive a $100,000 donation towards an organization of their choice, that if focused on advancing social justice. The other four finalists will each receive a $25,000 contribution.