The NBA announced Thursday that Minnesota Timberwolves center-forward Karl-Anthony Towns has been named the 2023-24 NBA Social Justice Champion and will receive the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Trophy for his off-court advocacy efforts. Towns has been a strong proponent of issues within the justice and education system, particularly the voting rights of formerly incarcerated individuals.

Towns was a vocal proponent of the state of Minnesota's Restore the Vote bill (House File 28), a since-passed piece of legislation that restores the right to vote for thousands of citizens who were formerly incarcerated in the criminal justice system. H.F. 28 was signed into law in March of 2023 and implemented that July, affecting more than 55,000 Minnesota citizens who were previously incarcerated or on parole.

Towns also served as a producer for the documentary film "Forgiving Johnny" exploring the effect of digital transformation within the justice system, and he also provided funding for the Ava DuVernay film "Origin". Towns is also a board member for the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition (NBSJC).

"Karl-Anthony Towns has demonstrated a deep commitment to advancing social justice through his tremendous advocacy work not only this past year, but throughout his whole career," Mark Tatum, NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, said in a statement. "Whether it was the passage of the Restore the Vote legislation in Minnesota, his 'Forgiving Johnny' documentary or continued work with the Coalition, Karl's efforts have made a true impact on the lives of thousands in Minnesota and beyond."

The winner of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award was determined by a selection committee that included Abdul-Jabbar himself, who had the award named after him in recognition of his advocacy during his playing days, which included organizing a boycott of the 1968 Olympics in protest of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

In addition to Towns, the other finalists for this year's award included Miami Heat center-forward Bam Adebayo, New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Lindy Waters III and LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook.