The NBA has done a good job of supporting its players and contributing to social justice efforts in recent years as the topic has gotten more and more publicity.
The league is full of players who have done their part to combat things like racial inequality and use their platforms to speak out against injustices. To recognize individuals for their off-court endeavors, the NBA announced a new social justice award named after Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Fittingly enough, it was a Laker that was named the inaugural winner of the award as Carmelo Anthony was named the recipient and he spoke about how honored he was.
Abdul-Jabbar has been one of sports’ leading figures when it comes to social justice issues and it was only right to see him pay tribute to another fellow champion in Jackie Robinson, who broke the MLB color barrier 75 years ago. The Los Angeles Dodgers showed a video featuring Abdul-Jabbar honoring Robinson on Jackie Robinson Day, via their Twitter account:
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 16, 2022
Abdul-Jabbar has previously expressed his admiration for Robinson, who made his MLB debut on April 15, 1947. The historic occasion is considered a breakthrough moment in professional sports as it ended racial segregation that had been present in baseball for over 60 years and the start of a successful MLB career for Robinson.
The Dodgers great had to endure countless bouts of racial slurs and abuse but persevered en route to winning Rookie of the Year. He continued to excel in the Major Leagues, being named the NL MVP during the 1949 season and later helping the Dodgers take home the 1955 World Series Championship.
There are not enough words to describe what Robinson means to the sport of baseball, but it is also a stark reminder of how much work is left to be done. Abdul-Jabbar remains one of the most prominent figures today regarding issues and his leadership has ushered in a new generation of athletes looking to make a difference.
Abdul-Jabbar has had no trouble calling out things he sees wrong and he recently took exception with LeBron James’ neutrality on the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. Anthony addressed the situation, saying he would like to mediate a conversation between the two Lakers greats.
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