J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award

The J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award is an award for social involvement, which is awarded annually to a player or coach of a professional basketball league NBA. The trophy is named for the second commissioner of the NBA, James Walter Kennedy, who led the league in 1963 and 1975. The respective winners of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award is selected by sports journalists. Unlike the NBA Sportsmanship Award not exemplary behavior in basketball, but a role model is recognized away from the actual sport with this award.


Entitled to vote for the nomination of candidates as well as for the actual choice are the approximately 150 members of the Pro Basketball Writers Association ( PBWA ). The PBWA is an association of journalists who report regularly in newspapers, magazines and online portals on the NBA. Each selection is preceded by a round of nominations. In 2011, for example, Marcus Camby, Kyle Korver, Dwight Howard and Ron Artest were pre-selected as potential winners. Ultimately, Artest won the award, which has now officially changed its name to Metta World Peace.

The type of excellent social engagement may be varied within the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award: So Samuel Dalembert received in 2010 the award for his dedication to the earthquake victims in his native Haiti. His successor, Ron Artest, was honored for his public awareness of the topic mental health. The then playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Garnett was awarded the prize in 2006 for a donation of 1.2 million dollars for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The money was in a program for construction of houses.

Award winners

Most winners of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Awards have recorded in the history of the award, the Detroit Pistons with a total of five winners. Three times each won player of the Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers the trophy. The only winner who could take the prize twice in reception, is the former center Dikembe Mutombo.

The only winners that were not awarded as an active player with the trophy, are Frank Layden and Joe O'Toole. Layden won as coach of the Utah Jazz, while O'Toole was honored when he was instructor for the Atlanta Hawks.

Only once, after the 1985-1986 season, were chosen to be equal with Michael Cooper and Rory Sparrow two winners at the same time.