The NBA 75th Anniversary Edition of the game honors three of the game's greatest scorers: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Durant - an honor for the former Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks star. For a new generation of basketball fans, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's famous skyhook is something they are more familiar with from the past. However, as the new cover star of NBA 2K22, the 74-year-old is bringing his game to a whole new audience.
I suppose that if they see me on there, they might be compelled to learn more about what I did, how I did it, and how long I spent doing it. I believe that all of these factors should be taken into account when evaluating someone's abilities and greatness in the game. I was thrilled when I was asked to appear on the cover of NBA 2K22 because it is something that is associated with the game all over the world, and I have felt that I have earned my place in the game all over the world. To be recognized in this manner, Abdul-Jabbar stated, is a great honor.
While Abdul-Jabbar's legacy in the NBA is undeniable, having won six championships, six Most Valuable Player awards, and still holding the record for the most points scored in NBA history, his impact off the court is even greater, given his lifelong commitment to social justice.
From meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a 17-year-old to participating in The Cleveland Summit in June 1967 alongside Bill Russell, Jim Brown, and other prominent Black athletes in support of Muhammad Ali's stance against the Vietnam War to his ongoing work in underserved communities, the former Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks star has been a beacon for social change. In Abdul-Jabbar's honor, the NBA 2K22 MT presented its first-ever Social Justice Champion award earlier this month.
In addition to being one of the greatest players in NBA history, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has devoted much of his life to advocating for equality and social justice, according to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
With this new award, we are proud to recognize and celebrate NBA players who are using their platform to make a difference in their communities and in our broader society.
Carmelo Anthony of the Portland Trail Blazers was chosen as the winner from a group of five finalists for his commitment to social justice, which includes co-founding the Social Change Fund with Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade to address social and economic issues affecting Black communities, criminal justice reform, and expanding access to voting and civic engagement.
Anthony, who currently serves on the board of the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition, was also instrumental in the launch of the Trail Blazers Racial Injustice Initiative, which has provided more than $200,000 in funding to organizations working to combat systemic racism.
During the height of last year's Black Lives Matter protests, which swept the United States and other countries around the world, NBA MT joined the conversation by increasing funding to their 2K foundations program by an additional $1 million, expanding its mission to help fight racial injustice and inequalities in black communities around the world.
During George Floyd's memorial service in Minneapolis, online gameplay was paused for two hours to show respect, and in The Neighborhood, players were given free t-shirts with the slogans "Black Lives Matter" and "I Can't Breathe."
With Abdul-Jabbar on the cover of NBA 2K22, not only is the honor in recognition of what he accomplished on the court, but it also recognizes his long-lasting impact off of it. The cover art for the Anniversary Edition was created by legendary African-American artist Charly Palmer, who was recently selected by TIME Magazine to design the cover of the magazine's July 2020 issue, which is titled "America Must Change."
Abdul-Jabbar believes that it is always possible to bring attention to social justice initiatives. There isn't much you can do with a video game, but the fact that there is a connection, I believe, allows people to learn about what the players do when they are not playing.
With current NBA and WNBA players following Abdul-Jabbar's lead in helping to serve their communities through vocal activism, his legacy off the court lives on through today's athletes, something he is proud of.
Already, he stated, there have been successful efforts to reach out to and build a bridge between communities and law enforcement agencies, efforts that have been facilitated by athletic teams.