CJ McCollum Awarded NBA J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award

The NBA has announced that New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum is this year’s recipient of the 2023-24 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.

McCollum, an 11-year veteran, was selected by the Professional Basketball Writers Association (PBWA). This honor is awarded to a player, coach, or athletic trainer who has given outstanding service and dedication to the community. The citizenship award is named after the NBA’s second commissioner, J. Walter Kennedy.

The Pelicans guard beat out four other finalists for the award.  He beat out Miami Heat assistant coach Caron Butler, Washington Wizards forward Anthony Gill, Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving, and Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr.

“C.J.’s passion, generosity, and commitment to improving the lives of the youth in his community is truly impressive,” said PBWA President Howard Beck, of The Ringer in a written statement. “The members of the Professional Basketball Writers Association salute him and all the nominees for their inspiring work.”

McCollum is also president of the National Basketball Players Association.

He is being recognized for his community work in and around New Orleans, focusing on education, social justice reform, and efforts to provide equitable resources and opportunities for youth.

He was selected from a list of nominees submitted from their respective teams to a committee of PBWA members. The membership of more than 200 NBA writers and editors who write for various newspapers, magazines, and online outlets, selected their choice for the people up for the honor.

McCollum joins a list of players like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Damian Lillard who have taken home the award in recent years.

In 2024, McCollum partnered with the nonprofit CollegeBeyond in January to launch McCollum Scholars to provide eleven New Orleans students with a $100,000 scholarship (totaling $1.1 million) to pursue four-year degrees. Then, in March, he opened the doors to the CJ McCollum Dream Center, “a dynamic hub of innovation and inspiration” at the Westbank Boys and Girls Club of Metro Louisiana.

This past season, he averaged 20 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assists while playing in 66 games for the Pelicans.

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