Harris selected as finalist for award named after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar


The NBA announced Friday the five finalists for the inaugural Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award. Sixers forward Tobias Harris is among them. 

Per a league press release, the award, which will be given to a player annually, is 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.”

Along with Harris, former Sixer Jrue Holiday, Carmelo Anthony, Harrison Barnes and Juan Toscano-Anderson are finalists. 

The league will donate $100,000 to a social justice organization of the winner’s choosing, while the other four finalists will receive $25,000 donations. The finalists were selected by Abdul-Jabbar and a panel of social justice leaders. 

Once the concept of the award was revealed, Harris immediately looked like a contender. He’s diligent about his craft and also passionate, thoughtful and generous about off-court causes. 

Harris was a prominent voice against systemic racism and injustice last summer, protesting in Philadelphia following the murder of George Floyd and writing a Players’ Tribune essay that touched on police brutality, activism and educational inequalities. He dedicated a session with reporters in the NBA’s bubble to call for the arrest of the police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor.

Among the other work he’s done that’s highlighted in the league’s release:


-Awarded $300,000 to The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, in part to recruit teachers from HBCUs or diverse backgrounds.

-Launched the Tobias’ Lit Labs and Tobias’ Top Teachers initiatives. Through the Lit Labs program, Harris provided 30,000 books to 8,000 kids in Philadelphia. Through the Top Teachers program, Harris focused on recruiting and retaining Black male teachers by funding 55 professional development workshops and giving classroom supplies to 800 new teachers. 

-Helped the Sixers launch their “Vote 76” initiative ahead of last November’s general election.

-Served as a player representative on the NBA Foundation board

The winner of the Social Justice Champion award will be announced before Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. 

Joel Embiid was named earlier this week as a finalist for the NBA’s Community Assist award.