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Grizzlies to honor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Lanier as part of the Sixth Annual MLK, Jr. Day Game and Celebration

MEMPHIS, December 27, 2007– The Memphis Grizzlies will be hosting the Sixth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Game and Celebration on January 21 when they host the Chicago Bulls, and will honor NBA legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Lanier for their contributions to civil and human rights. The celebration is presented by the Memphis Grizzlies, National Civil Rights Museum, City of Memphis and Shelby County.

Abdul-Jabbar and Lanier are this year’s recipients of the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Awards in the national and international categories, respectively. The award pays tribute to athletes who have made significant contributions to civil and human rights and who have laid the foundation for future leaders through their careers in sports in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Abdul-Jabbar carries out the vision of Dr. King with speaking engagements, and most notably, his writing. His most recent book is On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance, published earlier this year. It details the changes and growth of the black culture in New York City after World War I. He also wrote Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes, about the first black armored unit in World War II. His other books include Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement and A Season on the Reservation: My Sojourn With the White Mountain Apache. When Abdul-Jabbar retired he held league records for career points, blocks, Most Valuable Player Awards, All-Star Games and seasons played. He was a Rookie of the Year, member of six NBA championship teams, six-time NBA MVP, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 19-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion, and a member of the NBA 35th and 50th Anniversary All-Time Teams. Abdul-Jabbar was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.

Bob Lanier
NBAE/Getty Images

Lanier is a legend both on and off the court. An eight-time NBA All-Star and member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Lanier routinely visits with students and delivers motivational messages on education, youth and family development and health issues. Lanier serves as Special Assistant to the Commissioner with specific responsibilities in the areas of refereeing, basketball operations and public service, and he helps lead NBA CARES, the league’s global outreach program. Lanier averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds in 959 games with Detroit and Milwaukee in a 14-year career.

“The work being done by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Lanier represents the values Dr. King stood for, and we’re proud to honor them on a day that has such significant meaning,” said Memphis Grizzlies President of Business Operations Andy Dolich.

The day will begin with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day High School Classic presented by Southwest Tennessee Community College. The game will pit the Booker T. Washington Warriors against the New Hope Trojans (Columbus, MS). The game starts at 1 p.m., and admission is free with a ticket to the Grizzlies game that night.

Following the High School Classic will be the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Sports Legacy Symposium presented by the Hyde Family Foundation. The symposium will be emceed by TNT sideline reporter and Philadelphia Inquirer columnist David Aldridge, and will feature Abdul-Jabbar and Lanier, who will share their stories and experiences about their contributions to civil and human rights in the spirit of Dr. King. The free symposium will be held in the Methodist Healthcare Practice at FedExForum from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. While admission is free with the purchase of a Grizzlies game ticket, space is limited. Season ticket holders interested in attending must pre-register by calling their account executive at 901.888.HOOP or contact them via email at rsvp@grizzlies.com. All other fans can get tickets from the FedExForum box office when purchasing a ticket to that night’s game.

Following the symposium, the Grizzlies and Bulls will tip-off at 4:30 p.m. in a nationally-televised game on TNT presented by Lexus. Fans will want to make sure they arrive early, as prior to tip-off in a live TNT telecast Abdul-Jabbar and Lanier will be presented with their awards, and the national anthem will be performed by Boyz II Men. The halftime ceremony presented by AutoZone will feature a special Martin Luther King, Jr. video tribute, recognition of Abdul-Jabbar and Lanier, and a performance by Boyz II Men.

This marks the third year the Grizzlies and National Civil Rights Museum will present the Sports Legacy Awards. In 2007 David Robinson was the recipient of the national award and Dikembe Mutombo was the recipient of the international award. In 2006, Bill Russell earned the national award and Mannie Jackson received the international award.

Tickets for the MLK Jr. Day Celebration and game can be purchased by calling 888-HOOP, at all Ticketmaster outlets, the FedExForum box office or purchase tickets online. Fans can also take advantage of significant savings by purchasing a Pepsi Family Value plan which includes four game tickets, four Pepsi fountain drinks and four hot dogs for as little as $48.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration & Game Schedule

Event Sponsors Location Time
High School Classic Southwest Tennessee Community College Main Court 1 p.m.
Sports Legacy Symposium Hyde Family Foundation Methodist Healthcare Practice Facility 3 - 4 p.m.
MLK Jr. Day Celebration Game and Pre-Game Ceremony Lexus Main Court 4:30 p.m.
Halftime Ceremony - feat. MLK video & Boys II Men AutoZone Main Court Halftime

More details.